Lawyers representing over 8,000 plaintiffs in DePuy ASR hip lawsuits are recommending that their clients accept Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) $2.5 billion settlement offer.
For good reason. According to a November 25, 2013 New York Times article by Barry Meier, the lawyers stand to earn almost $1 billion.
Those lawyers have publicly praised the deal and described it as an “innovative plan” that will compensate patients who had to have hip revision surgery. After the lawyers’ fees, Meier reported that patients will get about $160,000 on average to compensate for their pain and suffering. There is also a $475 million pool for added payments to the most severely injured. In addition, J&J agreed to pay claims from private insurers and agencies like Medicare seeking to recover the costs of operations and other medical treatments related to the device.
According to Meier, the lawyers will receive about one-third of the settlement, or about $800 million. The single biggest chunk of those fees will go to the firms most involved with developing cases and negotiating the settlement; they will get a bonus of about $160 million.
One lawyer, not involved in the settlement fees, could earn about $90,000. Meier reported that that lawyer’s patient said he believed his lawyer paid about $400 on filing fees and between $2,000 to $3,000 to get copies of the medical records.
But the lawyers will only get paid by J&J if they convince 94% of the 8,000 eligible plaintiffs to accept the deal. J&J can walk away if that threshold is not met. Roughly 4,000 ASR patients who have filed claims against J&J but have yet to have a replacement procedure will not qualify for the plan.
Acceptance does not appear to be a foregone conclusion.
Several patients like Celeste Laney, a former occupational therapist, told Meier it was impossible to know what their claims might be worth if they went forward because the only two cases that went to trial ended with wildly disparate outcomes.
Some patients will see their payouts reduced based on their age, weight, or whether they were smokers. In addition, those who had an ASR for more than five years will get $25,000 less for each additional year they had the device before its replacement.
“I’m not taking it, it’s a joke,” said Laney who continues to have significant medical issues.
The $475 million pool in the settlement will be used to supplement the basic payouts to patients like Laney. Along with patients who had to have repeated operations, extra payments will also be available to patients who developed infections, experienced joint dislocation or had other problems related to a procedure like a heart attack or a blot clot.
The size of such payments will be determined by how many patients qualify for special funds, a group the lawyers think will be about 10% of claimants.
The lawyers for both sides have convinced and congratulated each other and received the praise of the court. Now, they just have to convince their clients they were worth almost a third of their pain and suffering.
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