Weitz & Luxenberg p.c. Settlement Letter to Seroquel Victims - TIME TO REJECT this Insult on Top of Injury
I would like to thank a brave, courageous, and ethical anonymous source who has send in this letter correspondence they received from the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. This letter doesn't require a whole lot of commentary.
It's obvious that Law Firms have sold their clients down the proverbial river while at the same time enriching themselves (who's best interest are you obligated too fulfill?). This settlement offer and the injured litigants legal representation has carried out a blatant miscarriage of justice, a forever horrible stain upon the American Justice system, and a orchestrated crime perpetrated upon victims of this well documented & evidenced unbridled & unregulated corporate criminal enterprise gone a rye.
The time has now come for the victims to stand up to this criminal corporation "AstraZeneca" & their poison drug "Seroquel", to reject this horrible injustice and settlement offer. We want, what America & our Constitution promises us all, our day in court before a jury of our peers....
We are happy to report excellent news! After a long and hard fought legal battle, AstraZeneca has agreed to participate in a Settlement Program to resolve Weitz & Luxenberg ("W &L") Seroguel cases. Our patience and aggressive litigating has resulted in very favorable settlement terms for our clients which will be further outlined below. We have carefully reviewed all of the factors of this agreement and we believe that this settlement offers you the best, and very likely the only opportunity to receive a fair resolution of your lawsuit. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you sign and complete the enclosed "Release Form", "Track Selection Form" and "Brief Questionnaire" and AGREE to participate.
As you know, we have engaged in a long legal battle with AstraZeneca over the past 6 years.
Weitz & Luxenberg led the charge for the Plaintiffs around the Country. AstraZeneca put up a tremendous and expensive defense and they successfully were able to get a large number of cases to be permanently dismissed by the court. Weitz & Luxenberg is the only firm who took a case to trial anywhere in the Country. However, after a month-long trial, the jury unfortunately ruled in favor of the defendants. This loss did not affect the strength of our fight. Over the past year, even as almost every other plaintiffs firm settled their cases, Weitz & Luxenberg prepared two more cases for trial which was scheduled to begin this Summer. As a direct result of the endless and consistent pressure applied by the attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg, we are happy to report that AstraZeneca has now agreed to participate in a favorable settlement program. Based on public reports regarding settlement programs reached with other plaintiff law firms we are confident that the settlement program outlined below has more favorable terms and for this reason we are recommending your participation.
The defendants have argued that they refuse to pay anyone who cannot prove through medical records or via certification that they have used Seroquel. They also refuse to pay anyone whose case is not active in this litigation. We recently told you about the Order issued by the Court requiring you to confirm when you started taking Seroquel and when you stopped taking Seroquel. We cannot stress enough that you MUST read, complete and return this certification form to us immediately. The failure to return this form within the next 30 days will result in the permanent dismissal of your case. In order to protect your legal rights, to keep your case active and be permitted to participate in this Settlement Program you must take this Order very seriously and you must respond.
Based on our experience in other litigations and having reviewed the media reports of the terms of other firms' Seroquel settlement programs, we know that the defendants are looking for a settlement program that includes all claimants (W &L Seroquel Plaintiffs) so that they will achieve complete closure of the entire litigation. Our goal in this negotiation was to obtain a settlement for the most amount of money using a fair method to pay our clients based upon the merits of their individual case. We also stressed our intentions that the case review and payment process be performed quickly yet fairly so that our clients can receive their settlements as soon as possible. A key part of this settlement program is that a claimant cannot be part of the settlement if their case is dismissed and unless they provide, at the very least, a certification that they in fact took Seroquel and suffered an injury. Therefore, please make sure that you return your certification form to us immediately
We have hired Hon.Marina Corodemus to act as the Special Master for the W&L Seroquel settlement program. Judge Corodemus previously ran the New Jersey Mass Tort Court and has a lot of experience in this field. She was appointed as a Special Master by the Vioxx State and Federal Court Judges to determine the appropriateness of Vioxx settlements and to resolve Vioxx appeals. She has also served as the Special Master in many other litigations such as Bextra and Celebrex which used similar settlement terms. We have met several times with Judge Corodemus and discussed the goals outlined above to get the most amount of money to the most amount of claimants in the fastest amount of time possible. We believe that Judge Corodemus is the perfect choice to create and oversee a settlement program in accordance with these goals.
The W&L Seroquel Settlement Program involves Weitz & Luxenberg'sinternet, the W &L Settlement program does not award every case an equal settlement amount. The size of an individual's settlement will depend entirely on the merit of that individual's case. As a direct result of the large number of cases represented by W &L, and the merits of those cases, we are confident that we have obtained the best possible settlement for our clients. After complex negotiations, AstraZeneca
has agreed to deposit $92.25 Million dollars into a trust account to be used for this Settlement Program. This amount is completely confidential and you should NOT discuss this with anyone. A settlement of this type is called an "Aggregate Settlement" where a fair and reasonable sum of money is obtained to resolve multiple cases. In order to maintain proper representation of each individual client, W &L is NOT involved in the allocation decision making, which will be handled exclusively by Judge Corodemus. W &L has reviewed the general framework of the settlement plan with Judge Corodemus and we strongly believe that it is fair and reasonable and offers each of our clients the best possible outcome under the circumstances of this litigation.
Track I offers the Seroquel claimant a settlement of $12,000. This track involves a simple review of each case and will result in a quick approval by Judge Corodemus without an analysis of the specific details of the case such as injury, amount of Seroquel taken, how close the last Seroquel use was to the date of the injury or the individual claimant's risk factors.
a) Cannot prove that they suffered diabetes or a diabetes related condition, and/or
b) Cannot prove that they used Seroquel within 1 year of their claimed injury, and/or
c) Had a large number of known risk factors for diabetes before they started taking Seroquel.
For example - obesity, family history, smoking, etc.
Therefore, all cases whose injuries are limited to weight gain or high blood sugar and whose medical records will confirm that they were never diagnosed with diabetes or pancreatitis, should choose Track 1. Similarly, any claimed injury that occurred long after the last use of Seroquel should also choose Track 1. These cases are likely to receive a small award in Track II (likely less than $12,000) because it is extremely difficult to prove that these injuries were caused by Seroquel. Therefore, we suggest that if your case falls into this category you should choose Track 1. Additionally, payment of Track I settlement awards will be processed first once AstraZeneca waives its "walk away right". (See Section IV(C) below)
Track II involves an in-depth review of the severity of the injury, the claimed use of Seroquel and its proximity to the injury as well the available proof found in the contemporaneous medical records. Additionally, Judge Corodemus will strongly consider many known risk factors for these injuries including but not limited to smoking, obesity and family history as well as the participation in the Zyprexa settlement for these same injuries. This model is very similar to the one used in the National Vioxx Settlement Program as well as dozens of other similar settlement programs which were successfully resolved in recent years. Judge Corodemus has established a points system and will consider all of the critical issues including but not limited to:
- Nature of the injury
- Severity of the injury
- Age at the time of injury
- Proximity of Seroquel use to the claimed injury
- Changes in the Seroque11abel
- Risk Factors including Smoking, Body Mass Index, etc.
After carefully reviewing all of the medical records and the individual fact sheet, Judge Corodemus will assign a point value to each case. The more points a case is awarded based on the specific facts of the case, the larger the settlement will be. At this time, there is no way to predict with accuracy how many points an individual case may be awarded and it is even more difficult to determine how much money each point will receive. The exact value of each point will depend on the number of participants in Track II and the total number of points assigned. All cases in Track II will be eligible for a settlement award but Judge Corodemus could award LESS than $12,000 (what people will receive automatically by choosing Track 1) if the case lacks merit. In the interest of fairness, Judge Corodemus has committed to review each case in Track II very carefully and this process will take time to complete. Judge Corodemus has stated that she hopes to have this process completed by the end of 2011 but please be warned that it could take a little longer due to the amount of work that is involved. However, in order to get this settlement process moving forward and ultimately paid you must send us your signed Release form as soon as possible.
If you choose Track I your settlement award of $12,000 is set. If you choose Track II, Judge Corodemus will review your claim and will issue an award. We expect that we will contact you in approximately November 2011 and notify you of your point award and the expected amount of your settlement. At that point, you will be given a choice to accept your award, appeal your award or withdraw from the settlement program. If you accept, we will forward your release to AstraZeneca for their review and approval. Please understand that this settlement is not official until we send AstraZeneca your signed Release Form, AstraZeneca approves it AND AstraZeneca waives its walk away right. In the interest of time, we are asking you to return your signed Release Form now so we can meet the tight deadlines associated with this settlement. If you are unhappy with your allocation amount and/or believe that your case involves "Extraordinary Injury or Circumstances" you have the right to appeal your award. Upon receipt of such an application, Judge Corodemus will re-review your records and make a final decision. Please be aware that there is no additional right of appeal (to Judge Corodemus or to any Court) once this final decision is made. If you decide to decline the settlement amount offered to you, you must notify us within ten days of your receipt of your allocation amount and your signed Release Form will no longer be valid.
As in all settlements of this type, our agreement with the defendant depends on nearly full participation from all of our clients. Under the terms of our agreement, we must provide Qualifying Materials (Release Form and/or Dismissal) for 2,260 of our clients. Once we reach this number, AstraZeneca's "walk away right" is officially waived. We strongly believe that our clients will agree that this settlement program offers the best possible terms and we expect that we will meet this requirement in the next 90-120 days. In order to meet this deadline we MUST have your complete
cooperation and immediate response. Of course, if we do not meet this required number of responses, AstraZeneca can decide to withdraw its settlement offer to everyone whether one signed the Release Form or not. Therefore, time is of the essence.
A. Release Form: Enclosed you will find a Release Form which you must sign in front of a notary in Order to participate in the settlement. If you have a spouse he/she must sign the Release Form as well. Attached to the Release Form will be an instruction sheet to guide you to ensure that this important form is signed the right way. A Release Form that is signed the wrong way or that is not witnessed (by a notary) is useless and will not be accepted by the defendants. The Release Form is your agreement to participate in the settlement program and at the same time discontinue your lawsuit in exchange for your settlement award. Please turn to Page 2 of the Release Form and complete the details of your Seroquel use. You may refer to Page 1 of the Brief Questionnaire which lists the Seroquel information that was found in your medical records or that you have previously provided to us. If this information is inaccurate, please cross it out and write in when you started and when you stopped taking Seroquel on BOTH the Release Form and the Brief Questionnaire. Due to the fast approaching deadlines, and our goal to get you your settlement processed and paid as quickly as possible, we MUST receive this signed release form back from you before August 31, 2011. Please use the envelope provided herein and return the signed and notarized release form today before you forget about it. Please note that once we submit your release form to AstraZeneca it can not be revoked.
B. Track Selection Form: Enclosed you will find a "Track Selection Form" which is the form used to officially notify the Special Master which Track you want your case to follow. Please Note that there are 4 options on this form. You MUST check one of the Options. If you want to participate in this settlement, and we strongly think that you should, you must check either Track I OR Track II and you must sign the bottom of the form. Your Track selection cannot be changed and is considered final once the Judge's Allocations are made. In other words, a person who chooses Track II and is awarded less than $12,000 CANNOT then choose to go to Track 1 for a higher award.
C. Brief Questionnaire: Enclosed you will find a 3 page Brief Questionnaire which has
important information about your claim. For all claimants who choose to enter Track II, Judge Corodemus will be reviewing your medical records, your Fact Sheet and this Brief Questionnaire and will issue a point award. Judge Corodemus will consider the proof of your claim found in your medical records as well as the information that you provide in this Questionnaire. Therefore, it is important that you answer these questions honestly and completely and that they are consistent with what is found in your medical records.
litigation and our conversations with our medical experts, it is clear that Seroquel lawsuits are very difficult to win, very expensive, and very time consuming to take through to trial, verdict and appeal. Over the past six years only I case (from W&L) of 24,000 cases in the Country made it to and through trial. Countless other cases were prepared and then dismissed based on merit and/or inability to prove that Seroquel caused the injury. Just because an individual took Seroquel and suffered an injury like diabetes does not mean that such a case will win at trial. In order to succeed at trial, a plaintiff must prove both that Seroquel can cause such an injury in general AND that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Seroquel caused this injury to this particular person (despite any individual risk factors such as smoking, weight, high blood sugar, family history etc.). We have told you in the past update letters that the Courts have consistently ruled in favor of the defendants on many of these issues and have prohibited medical experts from testifying because of a lack of scientific proof linking the plaintiff s injuries to his/her Seroquel use. It is also important to note that even if your case is able to advance past this judicial scrutiny, a trial of this magnitude will cost over $750,000 per case and many of these costs are reimbursed off of the top of a favorable verdict reducing the amount received by the plaintiff. Furthermore, any case that is won at trial will surely face a lengthy and hard-fought appeal. Finally, nearly all of the Seroquel cases are being handled by three judges. Even at an accelerated pace, the chances are slim that your case would be tried in the next 10 years if not longer. In taking all of these factors into consideration, and considering the issues of risk and reward, we believe that a settlement of this type offers you the most advantageous resolution possible.
You will be notified once the Special Master issues your point award at which point you can appeal to the Special Master if you believe that your case involves extraordinary circumstances. Thereafter, the decision of the Special Master is final, binding and non-appealable.
We have retained the Garretson Law Firm to negotiate any and all Federal and State liens (Medicare/Medicaid/SSI) that may be applicable in your case. The Garretson Firm is a specialist in this field and they have obtained excellent results in their negotiation of similar liens in other litigations like Vioxx, Bextra, and Celebrex. Moreover, the Garretson Firm has already worked on thousands of other Seroquel cases and has been able to achieve excellent results in large part due to the volume of cases that they are able to include in a Global Resolution. At this time, the Garretson Firm has already negotiated with 44 individual states regarding Medicaid and they have reached an agreement to CAP Medicaid liens at a maximum of 20% of the settlement amount. Please see the enclosed blue booklet regarding governmental liens for more details. Additionally, please also be advised that if you or Weitz & Luxenberg are put on written notice of a private lien, for example from your medical provider, this lien must be resolved before any settlement proceeds can be distributed. If you have received any notice of a lien, please advise us immediately.
The terms of your signed contingency fee agreement will be in effect. We have taken great effort to keep the case specific expenses as low as possible. Under the terms of your agreement, the
contingency fee will be calculated after the expenses are deducted. Under the terms of our agreement with AstraZeneca, any interest earned on the settlement proceeds before allocation and payment to the individual clients will be used to offset the fixed costs of the Special Master and the Lien Administrator. Due to the low interest rates paid by all banks in this economy, we do not expect that there will be any leftover interest. However, in such a case, the leftover interest will be added to the settlement trust and will be distributed to all claimants as part of Judge Corodemus' allocation process.
After careful analysis of the likelihood of success in the court system, as well as the cost and time elements involved, we strongly recommend that you AGREE to participate in this settlement. We are confident that this settlement is the best possible resolution of your claim especially in light of the history of this litigation. We expect that any case that does not agree to participate in this settlement will have a very difficult time navigating through the Court system and trial dates may not be set for many years. Moreover, as we have seen, these cases will be aggressively defended by AstraZeneca and we expect that we will receive motions to dismiss and unfavorable decisions from the Court on unsettled cases in the coming months. Moreover, if this settlement program is not successful (we fail to reach the 98% response rate) we highly doubt that we will ever obtain a settlement amount and terms as good as those contained in this program.
While we hope that this letter and enclosures will help answer all of your questions, we understand that you may have additional questions for us. Please keep in mind that we are working very hard to evaluate each and every case individually and the many deadlines that are part of this settlement are fast approaching. Your case has been assigned to Judy Koenig. If you have an important question please call Judy Koenig at (800) 438-9786 and ask for extension 5860. If you reach a voice-mail, please leave a message and you will be called back as quickly as possible. Please do not leave multiple voicemail messages on the same day as that will slow down our ability to return your call. Additionally, if you have email access, please try to email your detailed questions to us at email@example.com and we will get back to you quickly. If this letter has successfully answered your questions, and you have decided to participate, please carefully follow the directions on the front page of the enclosed release form and send your signed and witnessed release formes), your Track Selection AND your Brief Questionnaire to us as soon as possible. If you still have questions after reviewing this letter and after speaking to us over the telephone and you would like to meet us in person, we will be happy to schedule a meeting in our office at your convenience. Finally, please remember that the detailed information regarding this settlement program is COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL and should not be shared or discussed with anyone.
Jonathan Sedgh, Esq Glenn Zuckerman, Esq.