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Welcome to Vegas Lawyer. This site is for people who were hurt in Nevada. Contact us for a free consultation. You may want to read the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law introduction on our home page. Also, you can get an overview of other claims like Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents, Slip & Fall, and Products Liability before you explore the Article below.

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Limited Fund Class Action Settlements

White v. Eagle-Picher Industries, Inc.

In 1990 Eagle-Picher Industries, Inc. sought to use a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1)(B) to cap its tort liability. Its effort to achieve a limited fund settlement of all its present and future asbestos claims met with great opposition, however, and eventually was abandoned in favor of a Chapter 11 reorganization. Without engaging in any prior negotiations with plaintiffs’ counsel, Eagle-Picher tried to get a limited fund class action certified so that a non-opt-out settlement could be negotiated. The defendant pursued this strategy before a supportive judge, who had grown frustrated at the existing, costly methods of re-solving asbestos claims. The failure to obtain the support of or to allow the direct involvement of lawyers who might have been opinion leaders of the diverse, largely autonomous asbestos plaintiffs’ bar contributed in large measure to the opposition that the attempted settlement faced. The proposed settlement, which provided for the payment of some $505 mil-lion to the plaintiff class over a twenty-year period, was perceived as a pro-defendant solution that was being forced on plaintiffs by Eagle-Picher, the court, and the court’s handpicked lawyers. The size of the limited fund (i.e., the value of the company along with any insurance coverage) was never established.

Butler v. Mentor Corporation

Mentor Corporation successfully achieved a limited fund settlement of its breast implant litigation by means of a Rule 23(b)(1)(B) settlement class in 1993. It first engaged in negotiations with members of the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the breast implant multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings. Mentor reached a settlement agreement before it initiated the class certification proceedings and thus was able to present with plaintiffs a joint application for class certification and approval of the settlement to the court. The company benefited from the substantial ef-forts made by the MDL plaintiffs’ lawyers to explain and sell the settle-ment to breast implant plaintiffs’ lawyers around the country. The ap-proval process was largely nonadversarial, and few objections were made by members of the plaintiff class. In the end, the settlement provided for Mentor’s payment of $25.8 million over a three-year period into a set-tlement fund. The fund was eventually distributed on a basis that re-quired no proof of injury and drew no distinctions based on severity of injury.

Fanning v. AcroMed Corporation

In 1997 AcroMed Corporation, a manufacturer of orthopedic bone screws, achieved a Rule 23(b)(1)(B) class action settlement of the mass tort litigation it faced, over the substantial opposition of a codefendant and several class members. After reaching agreement on the terms of a settlement with the MDL plaintiffs’ legal committee, AcroMed and the Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee (PLC) jointly sought certification of a limited fund class and approval of the settlement. The court conducted a lengthy fairness hearing, at which the codefendant presented the testimony of an expert who disputed the proponents’ evidence concerning the existence of a limited fund. The court certified a plaintiff class pursuant to Rule 23(b)(1)(B) and approved the settlement, relying in part on the testi-mony of the PLC’s expert that, freed of the tort claims against it, Acro-Med would be worth $104 million. A few months later, the company was sold for more than three times that amount. One group of class members apparently obtained a more favorable treatment than the rest of the class in exchange for agreeing to drop their appeals.

This information came from a
FJC online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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