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Plaintiffs Lawyers Awarded $315M in Fees in Vioxx Litigation

October 26, 2010 | Posted in : Billing Practices, Contingency Fees / POF, Fee Award, Fee Award Factors, Fee Reduction, Fee Request, Litigation Management

A recent law.com story, “Lead Vioxx Plaintiffs Lawyers Awarded $315 Million of $4.85 Billion Settlement” reports that U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans, who oversaw the Vioxx multi-district litigation (MDL), awarded $315.25 million in fees to “all attorneys who performed common benefit work” in the MDL and associated state litigation.  That amounts to 6.5 percent of the $4.85 billion settlement.  The mass tort involved roughly 19 cases that were tried, only five resulted in verdicts for the plaintiffs.  The sheer volume of the Vioxx claims – approximately 50,000 – forced Merck into the $4.85 billion global settlement in 2007.  The award was less than the 8 percent first requested in a fee motion (pdf) by the MDL Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, Russ M. Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, LLP in New Orleans, last year.

Although Fallon shaved off another 1.5 percent, he heaped praise on the plaintiffs lawyers who led the Vioxx litigation, noting that in 31 months the parties were able to reach a global settlement and provide benefits to 32,886 claimants, out of a pool of 49,893 eligible and enrolled claimants. “[That] efficiency is unprecedented in mass tort settlements of this size,” Fallon wrote.  Lead plaintiffs lawyers operated on many fronts, “preparing pleadings and master class action complaints, taking 2,000 depositions, reviewing and compiling over 50 million documents, briefing and arguing over 1,000 discovery motions, assembling a trial package, conducting bellwether trials, negotiating the global settlement agreement, and implementing the payout under the agreement.  The time and labor expended in this effort is impressive.”

Visit www.officialvioxxsettlement.com for more information.