Archive for Settlements, Judgments, & Awards

BP Shunned By Supreme Court; Settlement Agreement Will Not Be Appealed

colorful oil
Ever since BP agreed to settle the 2010 Horizon Deepwater Oil Spill in the United States Gulf region, the company has been doing its best to find a way out of the deal.

The Horizon Deepwater crisis battered the lower coast of the United States, which crippled the economy, eradicated acres of natural land, and damaged countless wildlife populations, all of which are still attempting to recover.

Declared ‘grossly negligent’ and guilty of ‘willful misconduct’ for its role in the April 2010 oil spill, BP still believes that it is the one that has been wronged by the legal system.

Geoff Morrell, BP’s Vice President of US Relations, has been especially vocal about the company’s viewpoint. Morrell and his attorneys have been claiming that they are victims of fraud, “that BP said was far too generous in paying damages to businesses that were not directly affected by the oil spill but said the resulting economic slump caused revenue losses.”

Luckily for plaintiffs and those who have been damaged by the oil spill and its aftermath, the Supreme Court wasn’t buying it. In fact, the justices didn’t even deign to comment on the proposed case; they simply rejected the plea for consideration.

Joseph Rice, counsel to the BP claimants, called the Supreme Court rejection “very gratifying,” as BP’s proposal was simply their attempt to “re-write the settlement agreement.”

This attempting run-through with the Supreme Court has been one of many delays in the BP Oil Spill settlement process. The settlement process has been rife with uncertainties, including how much oil was actually leaked and which entities were harmed in which way by the leak.

Every new claim has been hotly contested by BP representatives, though the company did eventually agree to a settlement. It is this agreement, rather than evidence of the case, that BP tried to bring to the attention of the Supreme Court.

RD Legal Funding has paid close attention to the BP case proceedings since it became clear that the settlement process would be so arduous.

Because the BP settlement has gone through so many phases and is yet again being contested, RD Legal Funding began offering its Post-Settlement Fee Acceleration program to attorneys and most recently, a BP Claims Cash Out Program for CPAs.

RD Legal Funding continues to offer settlement and claims acceleration to plaintiffs’ attorneys and CPAs who have worked on the BP case. Visit RD Legal Funding’s BP page to learn more about this opportunity to receive usable capital immediately, rather than waiting years for the BP settlement to payout.

Image Credit: Ben Salter

Chinese Drywall Plaintiffs May See Big Payout

abandoned house
After the first complaints were filed five years ago, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon ruled that the almost 4,000 homeowners who built their homes with Chinese drywall will be entitled to receive compensation for the damages that ensued. Judge Fallon has ruled in favor of selected groups of plaintiffs in the past, but never before has he made a decision that would affect so many of those affected by the Chinese drywall.

Chinese drywall imported from Taishin Gypsum and other Chinese companies was used to construct and repair houses in hurricane-ravaged areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Virginia, Texas, and Alabama beginning in the early 2000s. The drywall was found to emit a sulfurous gas that not only affected the health of residents, but also affected the construction of the homes. The drywall occasionally corroded pipes and wires. Residents had difficulty finding insurance companies that would finance the repairs, and many of the homes became uninhabitable and unsellable. Many homeowners were forced to abandon or destroy the properties, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This most recent decision, which could be worth over one billion dollars, may be a result of the Taishan Gypsum Co’s absence in court. Fallon found Taishan in contempt. While some of the plaintiffs’ attorneys are hopeful, Colleen Stephens of a group called the Victims of Chinese Drywall is a bit more skeptical. Though Judge Fallon has made his decision, the government now has to hold the Chinese companies accountable and ensure that they pay the damages that are owed. This process could take another few years.

Plaintiffs in the drywall case will be receiving compensation equal to the square footage of their properties times the current cost per square foot of repairing or replacing the defective drywall.

If you are a plaintiff or attorney involved in the litigation and have a slow-paying award or legal fee, RD Legal Funding can provide accelerated access to your funds through their Fee Acceleration program.

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Written by Shayna Keyles, blogger and social media marketer based in Louisville, Kentucky. When not working with RD Legal, she helps small businesses with their online profiles, hikes uncharted areas, and cooks incessantly. You can contact her at skeyles@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @SKLiaison.

Preliminary Settlement Approved for Lenovo Class Action

lenovo laptop
On September 15th, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, approved a preliminary settlement agreement in the consumer class action against Lenovo, Inc.

Customers who purchased any of a variety of Lenovo products, including the Lenovo IdeaPad, Lenovo Yoga, and Lenovo G series have reported problems with the WiFi speed and range on the devices. These devices fall far below the standard for WiFi. The class action lawsuit filed against the manufacturer alleges that the devices have defective WiFi ports, and that the manufacturer was aware of these defects at the time of sale.

The lawsuit in question was initially filed on February 21st, 2013. According to the plaintiff claims, Lenovo allegedly marketed the devices as being “ideal for all mobile needs”, which includes optimal WiFi speeds.

The preliminary agreement, which claimants and the company agreed to earlier this year and was just recently approved by the courts, grants plaintiffs one of three options:

1. Lenovo will either repair the wireless capability of all defective devices (for those who did not return their defective devices to the company).

2. Customers will receive a $100 cash refund from Lenovo.

3. Customers will receive a $250 credit to be used toward the purchase of any product for sale on Lenovo’s website.

Parker Waichman, LLP, a firm that is nationally recognized for its dedication to representing consumer rights, represents the plaintiff class in this case. The Managing Attorney for the case, Gary Falkowitz, expressed his satisfaction with the preliminary approval, stating, “When businesses make claims about their products, they should be held responsible when those claims prove to be untrue.” The final approval for the settlement agreement will be determined on December 8th, 2014.

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Written by Shayna Keyles, blogger and social media marketer based in Louisville, Kentucky. When not working with RD Legal, she helps small businesses with their online profiles, hikes uncharted areas, and cooks incessantly. You can contact her at skeyles@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @SKLiaison.

Guilty Verdict Handed to Manufacturer in Bellwether Transvaginal Mesh Trial

silver gavel statue
Lead plaintiff Martha Salazar emerged victorious in a transvaginal mesh bellwether trial, when the jury determined that the device manufacturer Boston Scientific Corp owed a total of $73.4 million to affected claimants.

First developed to treat pelvic organ prolapse, transvaginal mesh systems had been implanted in over 185,000 women by 2010. However, many women noticed complications, ranging from mild to severe, with their implants. These included “erosion” of the implants, where the mesh would break through the vaginal wall. Other complications included infections, nerve damage, extreme pain, and the inability to urinate without a catheter.

Salazar, whose trial is one of many in a larger ongoing multi-district litigation, filed suit against Boston Scientific after experiencing severe complications directly resulting from the use of their Obtryx transvaginal mesh implant product. She had the product implanted four years ago to treat her stress urinary incontinence condition; however, since receiving the transvaginal mesh implant, her suffering has only worsened. For example, one of the new symptoms Salazar allegedly experiences is permanent nerve damage.

Earlier in this year, Endo International, supervisor of American Medical Systems, agreed to pay $830 million to settle the claim that the company had been negligent in not properly warning doctors or patients of the risks associated with transvaginal mesh, though the company did not admit fault and a jury of peers did not hand down a verdict of fault. Unlike that previous case, Salazar’s is the first of its kind, in which a jury found the manufacturer of the transvaginal mesh product guilty of negligence.

Despite Salazar’s victory, there are still 12,000 pending vaginal mesh lawsuits. Other trials that fall under the jurisdiction of Boston Scientific are set to be tried later this year; one of these will be affecting at least eleven separate Obtryx vaginal mesh lawsuits.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

“Shayna Keyles is a blogger and social media marketer based in Louisville, Kentucky. When not working with RD Legal, she helps small businesses manage their online profiles and explores uncharted areas. You can follow her on Twitter at @SKLiaison or contact her at skeyles@gmail.com.”

As Football Reigns, Take A Minute To Remember The Impact Of Concussions On Current And Former Players

football helmet
As new seasons for both the National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) commence, this season is a bit different than past seasons since they start in the shadow of huge concussion related settlements. The excitement for football can be encompassing. But it should not be forgotten that the issue of concussions still looms over the sport and both organizations.

While the settlements both deal with the issue of concussions, they differ in detail. The NCAA settlement was for $70 million, and most of that money is designated for research on concussions. The NFL settled for $765 million, but that cap has since been lifted. Most of the money from that settlement will compensate the plaintiffs, who were former players, and will also go towards baseline testing, medical research, and education.

So as football takes over the nation, the plaintiffs and their advocates who pushed the issue of concussions to the forefront by litigating it in the court of law and the court of public opinion should be remembered and applauded for their bravery in the face of very strong opposition.

Sources:

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000363672/article/federal-judge-approves-nfl-concussion-settlement

http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2014-07-29/ncaa-reaches-proposed-settlement-concussion-lawsuit

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Written by Lulaine Compere

BP Found Grossly Negligent, Halliburton Reaches $1.1 Billion Settlement in Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Deepwater Horizon Fire
This week in news related to the Gulf Coast oil spill, BP was found to be “grossly negligent” in events pertaining to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. United States District Judge Barbier ruled on the issue and has been the main judge throughout the BP proceedings.

BP was found to be guilty of “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” under the Clean Water Act. In addition to BP, the court found that Transocean and Halliburton were negligent and included a comparative fault of liability percentage for each defendant. BP was found to be 67% liable, Transocean was found to be 30% liable, and Halliburton was found to be 3% liable. The penalty BP will have to pay has not been determined, but there are estimates it may be as high as $18 billion.

The 153-page document, titled Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, detailed everything that happened during the oil spill and where responsibility lies. Stakeholders in the disaster like BP, Transocean, and Halliburton are all named in the report. It also details the operations of the rig and the actions taken by stakeholders during the crisis that led the court to believe BP was grossly negligent.

Halliburton reached a $1.1 billion settlement with plaintiffs over damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. According to news reports about the settlement, the company will place the amount into a trust in three separate installments which will be used to compensate property holders and commercial fisheries in the gulf coast. Halliburton set aside $1.3 billion for costs related to the spill. Halliburton is still facing litigation over the issue and the settlement still needs approval by Judge Barbier.

Sources:

http://time.com/3256721/halliburton-oil-spill-gulf-of-mexico-deepwater-horizon/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2014/09/04/bp-found-grossly-negligent-in-deepwater-horizon-disaster/

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Written by Lulaine Compere

Metlife Pays $23 Million to Settle Fax Blast Lawsuits

fax machine
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Metlife agreed to pay $23 million to settle two class action lawsuits alleging a company representative blasted out millions of faxes that violated the federal do not call law. The faxes were advertising low cost life insurance and were sent to as many as 2.8 million individuals and businesses throughout the US. Metlife disputes any liability but is settling to avoid the uncertainties associated with going to trial.

Scott Storick, the representative accused of sending out the mass faxes, was terminated by Metlife. He admits no wrongdoing and his attorney stated that the faxes did not violate the federal consumer-protection act. During his time at Metlife, Storick was a top performer and part of the Million Dollar Round Table, an elite industry group.

According to a fax entered into court records, there was an opt-out clause at the bottom of the page with a fax number recipients could use to unsubscribe from future faxes. However, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, this opt-out clause did not meet FCC regulations.

Plaintiffs involved with the litigation can expect to receive between $50 and $3,500 per claim. The award amount is based on the quantity of faxes received as well as the number of phone lines in place.

To read the full article, visit http://online.wsj.com/articles/metlife-to-pay-23-million-to-settle-blast-faxing-litigation-1407432583.

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Seastreak Pays $1 Million to Settle Claims

ferry
Seastreak, LLC has settled some lawsuits with plaintiffs who suffered from the January 2013 crash that left more than 80 people injured. As of today, the company has paid approximately $1 million to settle between 40 and 50 claims, but there are more claims pending. In April 2014, four more people reached settlements with the company. Those plaintiffs received between $25,000 and $50,000 on their settlement.

Seastreak, LLC is a ferry service that operates in New York City, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. There were approximately 320 passengers on the ill-fated ferry. While espousing their eagerness to settle the claims, Seastreak pushed for a limitation of liability for injuries suffered by passengers aboard the ship. They wanted to limit the damages to the value of the ship, which was $7.6 million.

So far, individual plaintiffs have received five figure payments as settlement for the claims. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say the ferry captain, Jason Reimer, lost control of the ferry while trying to dock and accidently left it running. When he tried to regain control, he had little time to adjust the error, which led to the crash.

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Written by Lulaine Compere

$75 Million NCAA Settlement

football helmet
The NCAA has settled a lawsuit with former student athletes for $75 million over head injuries. The money will be provided by the NCAA and its insurers. Of the $75 million, $70 million will be designated to create a fund and $5 million will go toward concussion-related research. A Medical Monitoring Fund will give athletes the opportunity to receive a neurological screening that would examine brain functions and any signs of brain damage.

The settlement would also change the procedures student athletes are subject to if they suffer any head trauma. According to news stories about the settlement, the schools are required to change their policies and institute “return to play guidelines.” The settlement does not bar any athlete from pursuing litigation against the NCAA.

The issue of concussions has been in the spotlight in recent years, specifically the deaths of some high profile athletes from the NFL and the connection of their deaths to head trauma attributed to their playing. The NFL settled a lawsuit with former players for $765 million and a federal judge recently removed the $765 million cap. According to the settlement, the Medical Monitoring Fund will be conducted for 50 years.

Find out more by clicking here.

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Written by Lulaine Compere

Cancer Increases Among Ground Zero Workers

american flag in the wind

The New York Post reported over the weekend that 2,500 9/11 First Responders have gotten cancer and are seeking compensation for their illnesses. Many may remember the fight to have cancer recognized as part of the illnesses covered in the Zadroga Act. That fight led to 50 types of cancers being added to the list of illnesses covered.

According to the New York Post story, the World Trade Center Health Program tally is 1,655 responders with cancer. That number increases to over 2,500 among the firefighters, EMT, and NYPD officers who were at Ground Zero. While the Victim Compensation Fund is working through the thousands of applications, the process has still been too slow for the responders. Some who are gravely ill are hoping to get approved so their families can use the money. According to the story, 115 claimants with cancer have received over $50 million.

The way the VCF is structured, qualified applicants will receive only 10% of their award amount initially. The remaining larger portion will be distributed in late 2016, which can make it difficult for those who have expenses piling up. As a solution to this potential cash flow dilemma, RD Legal Funding is offering advances on the second payment. For more information, please contact Joseph Genovesi, President of RD Legal, at 201-568-9007, ext. 140. Or visit http://www.legalfunding.com/eligible-cases/zadroga-bill-settlement-funding/ for further details.

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Written by Lulaine Compere