Consideration of the Vioxx settlement and whether one is going to participate is going to take at least a 3-4 weeks. There are many questions still to answer before an attorney can advise his or her clients if the Settlement is best for him or her.
The Settlement Agreement is set up so that each individual’s case is assessed separately. That is fair. A young person (in 40’s say) with few risk factors having a serious heart attack probably should get more money for an injury like that than an older person (in their 70’s say) that had several other risk factors that could cause a heart attack and who had a minor heart attack (if ANY heart attack can be called “minor”).
But, what my Vioxx clients really want to know is: “How much will I get if I participate in the Settlement?” Completely understandable, that, and don’t think attorneys don’t ask the same thing. But, the answer is hard to say, instantly. In fact, the official settlement documents do include a “calculator” that allows a person to try to calculate his or her potential recovery “points.” However, the calculator requires a person to fill in just a myriad of information, first to set out the starting # of points (more severe heart attacks and strokes start with more points), and then to set out reductions to the # of points (for risk factors, such as controlled hypertension, prior heart attack before starting on Vioxx and having a heart attack, prior migraine headaches before starting Vioxx and having a stroke, etc., etc.).
It seems to me that the attorney, if he’s going to give the client the most information possible, must review all the client’s medical records he’s collected, and, for each client, figure out the # of points, as above, for each client. If it is possible to do for a client, we should try our best to do it, to give him or her the best guidance we can.
But, then, all you have is the # of points the client ended up with, say 280 points after all the additions and deductions. We won’t know what a point is worth, completely, until every participating person who is in the settlement is “scored”, when you can finally take the # of total points for all people in the settlement and divide that total into $4Billion for heart attacks and $850 Million for strokes. All you can do, before that, is estimate.
The good attorneys who worked out this settlement have, in a fairly complicated process, tried to estimate now the number of claimants that will make it thru all the many hoops of this settlement and get points calculated, and have also tried to estimate the total # of ultimate points. Thus, if a point is worth $1000, 280 points is worth $280,000; if it’s worth $1500 per point, then the 280 points is worth $420,000. It’s not likely that a point will be worth over $2000.
So, what we will be trying to do for our clients is run each of them thru the calculator and give each client a very conservative estimate of the # of points each will get, and then some conservative estimates of what each point will be worth. At this point, which is very early on in the process, that seems like the most reasonable thing to do to help our clients decide whether they want to participate in the settlement.
So, the settlement truly does look good, and that’s a LOT of money, but there is still a lot of work to do. White Meany & Wetherall has sucessfully participated in many of these types of settlements, and we know, and hope our many Vioxx clients know, that there is a long road ahead before any payments will be made here. Stewart White
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.