Yaz, Mirena, NuvaRing, Essure – we’ve all heard about the terrible, permanent, and sometimes deadly side effects of certain birth control products and the massive lawsuits that have ensued. The latest consolidated litigation involves Paragard, an IUD that can break during removal and cause complications, sometimes requiring surgery.
Besides the serious health implications, it’s also appalling that yet another contraceptive meant to empower and protect women is hurting them. Here’s how Fidelma Fitzpatrick, a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the Paragard multidistrict litigation (MDL), puts it: “Many of the women chose this IUD because they thought it would be a temporary means of effective birth control. Instead, the women believe they were met with life-threatening complications that, in many cases, led to permanent infertility.”
At the time I’m writing this post, the Paragard MDL includes about 500 cases. The FDA has also received nearly 17,000 reports of serious reactions. With numbers like that, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to expect this MDL to grow. And even though the cases were just consolidated in December and the leadership committees were appointed in February, it’s not too early for the plaintiffs’ team to start thinking about settlement.
Preparing for a Mass Tort Settlement – Even When It’s Relatively New
Since MDLs involve many plaintiffs and attorneys, organization is especially necessary to handle the complexities of settlement. Tapping a qualified settlement fund administrator in advance is a strategic move and the best way to ensure each plaintiff and attorney gets the most out of settlement.
A qualified settlement fund (QSF) independently supports plaintiffs’ and attorneys’ financial planning needs for the incoming settlement. Also known as a 468b trust, a QSF accepts the defendant’s payment of the settlement in full. The funds then remain in the account, so there is no constructive receipt until each attorney and plaintiff is ready to receive their portion.
After a case is settled into a QSF, attorneys and their clients can take as much time as they need to plan before they officially receive their settlement/fee. Each plaintiff can consider their options, including ways to preserve government benefits. Attorneys can assess whether they would like to structure their fees for tax benefits. Meanwhile, lien negotiators can negotiate down liens as much as possible. There is no pressure to hurry up and finish with all these moving parts; each plaintiff and attorney can decide what’s uniquely right for them.
Should the Paragard leadership be thinking about a qualified settlement fund already? Yes. Why so soon? Because when negotiating a settlement, you do not want to have to worry about what will happen to your or your client’s funds. You should have the peace of mind to focus on your role of achieving the best possible result.
Firms involved in the Paragard MDL are not required to use the global administrator that will be appointed through the Master Settlement Agreement. Many mass tort attorneys choose to hire an alternative firm as co-administrator to manage the funds and ongoing claim resolution, source lien negotiators, and assist in government benefits compliance. This way, they can maximize clients’ settlement dollars and lessen the burden on their firms.
Both attorneys and plaintiffs benefit from engaging a specialized team to properly manage settlement. It’s never too early to think about what will happen after any case concludes. DM me on LinkedIn to hear more about QSFs for your mass tort practice.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).