Welcome to The Cat Site
your cat community
Interact with our community

Questions about class action lawsuits (warning...long post)

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
Let me start by saying we are NOT sue-happy. In fact, DH and I think most lawsuits are stupid, a waste of time and just a way for lawyers to make money and tie up the legal system. However,  DH is part of a class action lawsuit against a medical company that I think is fully warranted. 

Here's the story. DH had a hernia mesh patch implanted Sept 2005. Shortly after that he started having problems with sharp stabbing pains in one spot, nausea and spiking fevers. This resulted in time off from work and numerous hospital and doctor visits (DH also has Crohn's disease and he thought the symptoms were a result of them). 

We found out the patches (at least that lot number) were recalled in Dec 2005. HOWEVER, we did not find out about the recall until the fall of 2007 so DH suffered for 2 years because of this. The recall notice the company sent out to the hospitals was just to take them off the shelves. It did not specifically state to notify the patients that received these patches that there may be a problem and because of the privacy act the hospitals were not allowed to go through records to see who received those patches. Hence the lawsuit. It has nothing to do with it being defective, it has to do with not instructing the hospitals to warn the patients of the dangers. We actually found out about the recall because my MIL saw an add in the paper from a law firm saying "if you got a hernia patch and have had these symptoms, call us". 

So DH went back to the surgeon and made him aware of the recall (the doctor wasn't even informed of this, it was just to take them off the shelves) and they did exploratory surgery to see what the problem was. From what the doctor told me that day and from the doctor's report we sent to the lawyers, the ring that goes around the mesh was broken in 3 pieces and the mesh was curled at exactly the place he was having the stabbing pain. Also, the mesh was adhered to internal organs (the doctor's report doesn't state what organs, but that doesn't sound good). 

Anyway, we joined the lawsuit because if DH had been notified of this he could have had it looked at 4 months after the initial surgery instead of 2 years after and it would have saved him 2 years of pain and misery.

So to make a long story even longer, they went to court on one case and he was awarded 1.3 million dollars so the company decided to settle out of court. Our law firm was awarded a certain amount and all the cases were sent to a "Special Master" who evaluated the info provided and determined an amount awarded. He got his packet on Thursday. His settlement is $3,500. After the lawyers take their fee we would get $1,200. That doesn't even cover time off work, much less the doctor fees.

When looking over the packet, it includes (I assume) the information that was sent to the special master. It doesn't mention the fact that the mesh was folded (which would put him up to $23,000) or that the ring was broke (which would put him up to $50,000).

My question is does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? It doesn't seem like the person evaluating the cases was give all the info. Can we have it re-evaluated? If we don't agree to this will it go to court or are we giving up $1,200? I mean, believe me, an extra $1,200 would help right now, but if the special master wasn't given all the info then we would like enough to pay off the bills. 

Oh, and another thing, in the packet they included a breakdown of who got what and what is left over. The law firm we are with was awarded over $9,000,000 dollars and the breakdown shows only $7,000,000 was awarded. Does that give them room to play with for people like us, or are they pocketing the money? 

Sorry this is so long, but I'm heart broken. We thought we would get enough to at least pay off a few bills and be able to breathe. Should we fight it or not? 
 

pami

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Messages
17,482
Reaction score
16
Location
Birmingham
I would call another attorney and see what he says.....
I know this is a little too late now, but I always heard when they have a class action lawsuit, it comes down to the attorneys making the money and the actual people who suffered getting next to nothing. That it is always better if you have a valid case to to never go with a class action law suit and file separately with your own private attorney.
A different attorney would be able to advise you where you can go from here, hopefully there is something you can do. 1200 seems like nothing compared to what he suffered.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
That's kind of what we're thinking but we don't know the ins and outs of it. If we get a new lawyer, do we still owe the old law firm money for representing him? They are only supposed to get a cut if we get awarded something. If we don't agree to the settlement do we still owe them? And I don't know of any independent lawyers that handle something like this. 

Yeah, there are a lot of people who are NOT happy with the settlements. DH belongs to a forum for this case, and some people who were awarded $50,000 and above are only seeing a few thousand due to court fees, lawyer costs and liens. There are people that want to report the whole thing to the media because they feel they were royally screwed. AND they want to know where the extra $2,000,000 went.
 
Last edited:

pami

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Messages
17,482
Reaction score
16
Location
Birmingham
If you havent cashed the check, dont cash it. You can look in your local area on yellow book for an attorney who handles "personal injury claims". I am not sure about the ins or outs either, that is just something I always heard about those class action lawsuits..... but if you can find an attorney who handles personal injury claims, they should be able to answer any questions you have about it over the phone. I hope you can get it straightened out.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
But, you see, we haven't gotten the check. We got a packet of about 20 pages, most of which is legal mumbo jumbo but which states what this "Special Master" has decided what is owed to DH. DH basically has to sign on the dotted line to accept this settlement and then we get the check for $1,200. I just wanted to see if anyone knew if we didn't sign, whether it would then go to court or if we just lose that money. Or, if we could contest it and have the Special Master (don't you just love that term? But that is what he is called) re-evaluate the case since he wasn't given all the facts. 

Thank you Pami for your posts. I always thought a personal injury lawyers was more for auto accidents, but I guess it would apply to this too. I never thought about that. I figured it would take a big corporate law firm to go up against a medical manufacturer but maybe not. It's definitely worth a shot!

We are calling the law firm on Monday to see what our options are, but that's 2 day away. 
 
Last edited:

mrblanche

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
12,578
Reaction score
110
Location
Texas
You don't have to accept the settlement.  You can file your own suit, which sounds at least justified.

Class action suits are just ways for law firms to bulk up their bank accounts and punish a company.  And the law firm's lawyers and the company's lawyers probably will go down to the golf course, play a round or two, and then sit in the bar and laugh about it all.
 
Last edited:

natalie_ca

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
21,136
Reaction score
219
Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
"Class Action" means you join a law suit in progress with a bunch of other people.  If you are not happy with your share of the settlement, you are free to reject it and to file a law suit on your own behalf. However, from what I remember when I worked in law, the lawyer's take is based on a contingency of the amount rewarded, which is usually 33% plus their disbursements such as court filing fees, photocopying, postage, bailiff service charges etc etc etc.

So far as where the $2,000,000.00 has gone, it's likely in trust for other people who join the suit late and want in on the reward.  Just because there is a payout, doesn't mean it goes only to those who are present at the time of the payout.  There is usually a reserve put aside for future complaints.

You should be aware that if he does accept that settlement, he has effectively closed the case on himself. He would not be able to file a lawsuit for any additional sum, and he would also likely have to sign a gag order barring him from even discussing the suit or amount received.
 
Last edited:

mrblanche

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
12,578
Reaction score
110
Location
Texas
It might work to contact your own lawyer, show him everything you have, including the aggravating circumstances, in order to be sure you receive what you should.

It's a rare month I don't get a notice that I'm a party to some class-action suit.  The most valuable thing I ever got was a full set of restore disks for a computer that didn't come with them.

A lot of new contracts (such as the contract for passage on a cruise ship) have a provision that you agree not to seek redress for anything through a class action suit, but only through an individual suit.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
Thanks Mike and Linda! We're hesitant to accept because we know that will be the end of it. We don't want a fortune (although that would be nice, lol) but we would like to get enough to cover the medical expenses and time off work. Do you know if we don't sign do we owe them anything? They get 40% of whatever we are awarded plus additional fees. (yeah, they mailed a letter to the wrong address regarding our bankruptcy and even though it was their mistake we were charged for it). So if we don't take the reward will we have to pay them, or will they just take the entire $3,500?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
Well, DH talked to the law firm today (not a lawyer of course, but a rep) and explained that this doesn't even cover medical bills and things were left out of what was sent to the special master. He said to send in the doctor's report again with the original letter received stating we are disputing it, but he doubts the case will be re-examined or taken to court. So he's send that in with a letter clearly stating what was missed (the mesh was folded and the ring was broken in 3 pieces). But, we're also contacting out own lawyer and see where that goes. Wish us luck!!
 

ldg

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Messages
41,323
Reaction score
791
Location
Fighting for ferals in NW NJ!
I don't even know what that means that the case wouldn't be re-examined or taken to court. They meant by them? No point in hiring someone? Or by the Class Action lawfirm? Of course the class action people wouldn't want to individually review each case, or fight for an individual - that's not their thing.

I have NO idea how any of this stuff works - I just know you shouldn't sign that agreement. Definitely talk to your lawyer or get an appointment with a personal injury lawyer that you'd be interviewing to represent DH!

:vibes: :vibes: :vibes: :vibes: :vibes: :vibes: :vibes:
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
No, the class action law firm said the case most likely won't be sent back to the special master that evaluates each individual case but we're going to try to make that happen. As much as we could use the $1,200 right now it's not worth signing anything if we can't get the reimbursed for the medical bills and time off work. They DID say, however, that they would still represent us but I don't have a clue what that means.

We will be contacting a private lawyer on our own tomorrow to see what they say. I know they will still take a cut (which is better than having to pay them up front) but at least they won't be trying to go through hundreds of people's claims and try to keep everything straight so maybe they will be thorough instead of leaving out important information.
 

natalie_ca

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
21,136
Reaction score
219
Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
No, the class action law firm said the case most likely won't be sent back to the special master that evaluates each individual case but we're going to try to make that happen. As much as we could use the $1,200 right now it's not worth signing anything if we can't get the reimbursed for the medical bills and time off work. They DID say, however, that they would still represent us but I don't have a clue what that means.

We will be contacting a private lawyer on our own tomorrow to see what they say. I know they will still take a cut (which is better than having to pay them up front) but at least they won't be trying to go through hundreds of people's claims and try to keep everything straight so maybe they will be thorough instead of leaving out important information.
Be careful. If you hire a lawyer to help you get the claim amount re-evaluated, then you will end up not only paying the class action lawyer their cut, but also a 33% cut of what the class action lawyer gets you, to your private lawyer for their fees in getting your claim amount elevated.

It sounds like you should be talking about filing a private law suit of your own against the company that made the mesh. However, since there is a class action case against them, a private law suit may not even be possible anymore. You may be told to join the class action one in progress.
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
Be careful. If you hire a lawyer to help you get the claim amount re-evaluated, then you will end up not only paying the class action lawyer their cut, but also a 33% cut of what the class action lawyer gets you, to your private lawyer for their fees in getting your claim amount elevated.

It sounds like you should be talking about filing a private law suit of your own against the company that made the mesh. However, since there is a class action case against them, a private law suit may not even be possible anymore. You may be told to join the class action one in progress.
No, we're sending in everything (we had to do this before, but we're doing it again, but with things highlighted with a letter explaining what was not reported to the special master) to the class action lawyer to ask them re-evaluate everything along with their original paperwork saying we are disputing rather than accepting. We're contacting a private lawyer on the side just to see what he can do. I have no idea yet if the lawsuit originally will stop any further action independently because we haven't actually had time to get in touch with anyone. 

You know what's funny though. This whole time (4 years), it's been a pain trying to actually talk to someone from the law firm. Usually he would get voice mail and wait for a call, which usually didn't come or if they actually did return his call it was while he was at work (he told them he would prefer for them to call his work phone during certain hours). Today he got a call at 10:05 from the lawyers asking if he was sending in the paperwork to accept the settlement. DH talked to a rep last night and told they he has disputing the settlement. The woman that called today said they would be calling everyday to see if the paperwork was mailed in. DH told her again that he was disputing the settlement  but he would get everything in the mail first thing tomorrow. She was NOT happy. Apparently, the lawyers are desperate for their 40% cut. From what DH read on the internet, a LOT of people are disputing their settlement for the same reason he is. I think the law firm we chose just doesn't know how to document things. 

It's just funny....they don't contact you for weeks at a time no matter how many messages you leave, but when they want their cut they are going to call every day. Yeah, I really should have gone to law school.
 
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
Good news! The case did go back to the Special Master, and he called DH personally the other night. After reviewing his case again, he bumped DH up to the next category (based on the folded mesh) so he's awarded $22,500. After lawyer fees and expenses we'll get around $10,000. 
 The Special Master explained the reason he was put in the lower category to begin with is because the surgeons report stated in the beginning that it was a "precautionary" sugary. He had pain and problems, but it wasn't infected....yet. He also said, based on the report, that if he had waited 6 more months he probably would have been category 1 or 2...or dead. I would rather take $10,000 and have him here than get $500,000 and him be dead.. 

Anyway, just wanted to update you on what is going on. We can pay off some bills, make a major market run, get more of the barn cats fixed, and get a cat tree! Yeah, little things make me happy!
 

pushylady

TCS Member
Veteran
Joined
Jul 26, 2005
Messages
16,398
Reaction score
447
Location
Canada
That's great news Hope! I should think so too after all your DH went through.
 

GoldyCat

Moderator
Staff Member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 31, 2008
Messages
12,535
Reaction score
1,771
Location
Arizona
I missed this thread the first time around. So glad things worked out better for you. :clap: Do you have any idea how long it will take them to get the check to you?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19

calico2222

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
7,731
Reaction score
37
Location
Over the river and through the woods...
I missed this thread the first time around. So glad things worked out better for you.
Do you have any idea how long it will take them to get the check to you?
According to the guy DH talked to, they were mailing the new packet with the paperwork Tuesday or Wednesday and when that get that back with his signature on the dotted line they will cut the check, so it should only be 1-2 weeks (hopefully!!!)

I'm just glad we got them to take a second look at it and it comes at a great time. I'll be honest, when we first joined the suit we had visions of 6 figures and early retirement dancing in our heads 
 but yeah, we're happy with this settlement. Oh, by being bumped up he is also allowed to make future claims on the suit if he has more problems (hence where the extra $2,000,000 went to). So if he has to have another surgery due to the mesh causing problems we can put in another claim to cover co-pays and time off work.

Some people (according to the forum) who refused the first offer were re-evaluated and didn't get moved to a different category were told if they don't take the initial offer they (the law firm) was dropping them from the case. 
 
Top