The Vioxx Settlement Program continues to proceed on schedule. When the program was announced on November 9, 2007, one of its primary objectives was that it would not only fairly compensate victims but that compensation would be issued in a timely manner. From the beginning, the target for the heart attack final payment was summer 2009. The issuance of the final heart attack payment will mean that over 30,000 heart attack claims have been reviewed and processed and that $4 billion dollars has been paid to victims less than two years after the announcement of the program.
Due to the efforts of BrownGreer, the Vioxx Claims Administrator, the lawyers for claimants, Judge Eldon Fallon, and others, it appears almost certain that a final payment for heart attack claims will be issued during September of this year, meeting the deadline as outlined from the beginning. Though there is much to do during the final months before the scheduled final payment, the current developments are enormously encouraging and are further proof that the Vioxx Settlement Program is one of the most efficient settlement programs in the history of mass torts.
A total of 48,520 claimants have enrolled their claims in the Vioxx Settlement Program. Of the 30,142 heart attack claims that have been enrolled, interim payments have been issued to over 10,000 claimants with over $850 million being distributed to victims of Vioxx and their families. Interim payments in heart attack cases began in August 2008 and will continue over the coming months until the final payment in September.
Interim payments in stroke cases began in February 2009 in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement. Of the 17,831 stroke claims that have been enrolled, interim payments have been issued to over 1,000 claimants with almost $30 million dollars being distributed to claimants and their families. Interim payments in stroke cases will continue with the final payment in stroke cases being contemplated in late 2009 or early 2010.
In addition, the Vioxx Settlement Agreement dictated that certain claims would be given extraordinary injury consideration under the Settlement Program. The agreement established a $195 million fund for the compensation of extraordinary heart attack claims and $105 million dollars for the compensation of extraordinary stroke claims. Only those claims that qualify for compensation of the underlying heart attack or stroke claim will be considered for extraordinary treatment. On March 2, 2009, BrownGreer announced the implementation of the Vioxx Extraordinary Injury Program. The deadline for submitting applications for extraordinary injury compensation is September 1, 2009. Andy Birchfield, Leigh O’Dell, and Roger Smith, along with a great support team, have done a tremendous job in carrying out all of the work required to complete the settlements and get our clients paid.
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