Many women who opted for breast enhancement surgery in the 1970s and 1980s found themselves as victims of fraud, deceit, and physical agony. Dow Corning, global supplier of silicone products, had been distributing silicone breast implants to plastic surgeons without warning patients of potential physical danger.
What’s more, when Dow Chemical, partial owner of Dow Corning, was taken to trial in a multi-district litigation (MDL), the New Orleans jury discovered that the company had also failed to properly test the silicone to see how it would react in the human body. So not only was the product not properly tested, but the distributer was lying about the potential damages that silicone implants could cause.
Hundreds of thousands of women received silicone implants before Dow Corning stopped offering the product in the early 1990s. Over 20,000 of those women filed suit against the company because of complications including infection, loss of sensation around the implant area, buildup of scar tissue, muscle weakness, and other signs of connective tissue disease.
Dow Corning couldn’t handle the pressure from the mess it had created. In 1995, the company filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, and essentially stopped all litigation. All payouts were halted for 9 years; settlement guidelines were re-established in 2004. Only now are claims being processed, and some claims are still being filed.
This means that some women have been waiting for their settlement payouts since the early 1990s.
This means that some attorneys have been waiting for their fees for that long, as well.
This is the type of case where legal funding could make life better.
Imagine trying to get something fixed, only to wind up with even more problems. You went in to get your broken arm splinted and left the hospital with two black eyes, and now you have to wait months to take care of both your arm and your eyes. Or you went to change your flat tire and the floor of the mechanic’s shop is covered in nails, so now you have three ruined tires plus the flat you started with.
Or you’re a woman who simply wanted to receive breast augmentation surgery in the 1970s or 1980s, but wound up with infections, scarring, and pain, along with countless medical fees and a settlement that keeps stalling.
Or imagine you’re her attorney, who has been waiting for over a decade to get paid for hours, weeks, months of hard work.
As frustrating as this situation sounds, it isn’t completely hopeless.
The woman and her attorney both have the option of post-settlement legal funding to alleviate the stress of waiting.
Post-settlement legal finance allows plaintiffs or attorneys to take out an advance on the payment that they are due to receive. This is different from a loan – it simply means that some of the money that will be awarded in the future, either in the form of an award (for the plaintiff) or a fee (for the attorney) will be given out in advance. Check out this post to learn a bit more about legal funding.
What could this mean for the Dow Corning plaintiff and her attorney?
For the plaintiff, it could ease any financial troubles that accumulated during the waiting period. Because she first filed a claim due to medical issues, the settlement advance may help her pay any medical debts that accumulated. The advance would of course also help with any other daily expenses.
For the attorney, the advance could help foster a successful business. Plaintiffs’ attorneys can experience cash flow problems now and again, especially when their fees are subject to long delays. A payment advance such as this one could allow an attorney to reinvest into his or her practice, and maybe take on another potentially lucrative case.
In a case like Dow Corning, legal funding can make a huge difference for both plaintiffs and attorneys. Legal funding can be the difference between waiting, and thriving!
Learn more about why legal funding is a solution to settlement payout delays!
Image Credit: Rudolf Vlček
Written by Lulaine Compere, analyst at RD Legal Funding and Shayna Keyles, consultant at The Content Liaison.