Major innovation in Mass Torts to be announced this week.

In what could be a major innovation in how mass tort cases are handled Attorney Jan Schlichtmann of The Civil Action Center and one of the principals of The Legal Broadcast Network will be presenting to the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference in Las Vegas on "Procrit, A new concept in case resolution". What is going to make this talk, and the follow up 2 hour break out session on the topic so important, is that for the first time a trust utilizing features in 468b qualified settlement fund, will be an integral and innovative part of a strategy to educate and inform the potential claimants injured by Procrit, Aranesp and Epogen anemia medications. As our readers are aware these drugs received the FDA black box warning status just last week, which is the strongest possible warning, after a series of new studies showed the drugs can accelerate tumor growth in cancer patients, as well as bring on heart attacks and strokes.

Jan has joined with a team of the nations finest mass tort lawyers to promote this innovative tool that will have major implications for the negotiation and settlement of any claims that might eventually be paid as a result of this initiative. Further, Wahlstrom & Associates as one of the co-authors of the concept, has made sure that language and procedures are in place that will provide claimants in the trust with the ability to select the settlement or financial professional of their choice to carefully review and explain their options to structure payments, negotiate or resolve medicare/medicaid liens, provide for creation of supplemental needs trusts and otherwise engage in thoughtful and careful planning of any potential funds they might be awarded.

The key element that will be of interest to the settlement and planning community is that there is, as part of the documents, an institutionalized commitment to making this an open platform for professionals to represent claimants, and that other then certain basic professional standards that will be part of the parameters to work with the trust, that there will be no bias toward either defense or plaintiff oriented practitioners. In other words, this will not be a repeat of past failures and embarrassments to our business where brokers and financial institutions  arranged for exclusivity only to have the vast majority of claimants never meet with a settlement or financial professional prior to exiting the trust. In fact, it is contemplated that it will be a requirement prior to disbursement, to provide evidence to the administrative trustee that a plan for use of the claimants funds is in place prior to exiting the trust.

I will be able to provide greater details at the end of the week, and you will be able to view Jan Schlichtmann's entire presentation to the Mass Torts Conference via podcast, as well as video of the break out session and interviews with several of the other lawyers who are part of this ground breaking initiative. At that time I can go into all of the items of interest and concern to the settlement community as regards this case. However, know this going in, that this will be a major mass tort, it will require the cooperation and support of the entire settlement industry, and if we can put our darker past behind us and elevate our profession to one that puts top quality planning for the claimants as it's priority, rather then scheming to control business and clients that rightfully should be represented by our fellow cohorts in the settlement industry, then this model has the potential for elevating our profession from one that is seen as constantly bickering over control and commissions, to one that truly puts injured victims and their financial stability first. 

I look forward to your comments and questions as this unfolds in the coming weeks.  

Posted on March 25, 2007 and filed under Procrit .