When deciding to file a lawsuit, the question of how much the case is worth inevitably crosses the minds of those seeking compensation. There is no simple answer for this question, and the amounts for which defendant corporations will agree to settle can vary a great deal.
Several factors typically come into play when a defendant decides whether or not to settle a case out of court or go to trial. Some factors taken into consideration may include whether or not the defendant believes the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) has a strong case and whether defendant wishes to avoid the publicity of a trial. The skill and the experience of the plaintiff's lawyer often plays a significant role in determining the amount of a settlement.
Tardive dyskinesia patients are often able to seek compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages or salary
- Loss of/ damage to property (if applicable)
These three issues are easily quantified and measurable and are more likely to be compensated without argument. Damages for pain and suffering frequently sought in legal actions are highly subjective and not easily measured. Here again, the skill and experience of a patient's legal counsel can make a great deal of difference.
It should be noted that when a corporation offers an out-of-court settlement, it is likely to be less than a plaintiff would receive should the case go to trial and the judge and/or jury decide in favor of the plaintiff. It also means that the corporation is able to deny that they did anything wrong, and chances are that according to the terms of the settlement, the plaintiff will not be allowed to discuss the case.
Still, in many personal injury cases, such a settlement is considered an ideal resolution, as it saves time, trouble and expense for all parties concerned.
The Decision to Settle
This is a question that only the lawyer with access to all the information involved in a specific case can answer. If the attorney feels a case is extremely solid, a plaintiff's legal counsel may advise the plaintiff to go to trial. On the other hand, court proceedings can be very long and highly stressful. Ultimately, the decision will be the plaintiff's as to whether or not to accept an out-of-court settlement.
There is unfortunately very little information on the exact amounts Reglan plaintiffs receive when a case is settled out of court. Often, this information is confidential under the terms of the settlement. Most often, these cases in fact do go to trial, as was the case in the experience of Dr. Peter Breggin, whose expert testimony in tardive dyskinesia cases has won four jury awards (one of which was $6.7 million) and one out-of-court settlement.
A prominent New England law firm has made some information regarding their cases public, although only one of these was for a case involving Reglan, which went to trial. The jury award in this case was $1.6 million. This firm has listed information regarding other medical cases however which did result in out-of-court settlements. Again, the amount of these settlements varied a great deal, ranging from $1.2 to $5.2 million and involved injuries or misdiagnoses and it would be difficult to judge the value or possible settlement of a Reglan case based on these figures.
Reglan litigation related to tardive dyskinesia is a fairly new issue. Case law and precedence is still being sorted out, and can vary from one state to another. For example, in 2008, a California court determined that a manufacturer of Reglan, Wyeth, could be held liable for injury caused by Reglan even if it had been manufactured by another company in generic form under license. Six months later however, a federal judge in Oklahoma reversed this decision, ruling that Wyeth could in fact not be held liable.