We are in the final stages of the Hayes-Sammons lawsuit. The Court Appointed Special Master and case administrator are currently confirming the addresses of each Plaintiff to ensure that his or her settlement check is sent to the correct address.
The number of Plaintiffs and heirs in the lawsuit total more than 3,800. The letter that was recently sent to each Plaintiff has specific instructions that must be followed in order to ensure correct information is obtained for each person entitled to receive a share of the settlement. If you have not received a letter, please be patient, as the initial letters were sent to all living Plaintiffs only. Additional letters will be sent to all family members of deceased Plaintiffs in the coming days. And any and all questions from Plaintiffs or Plaintiffs’ family members should be directed to the settlement hotline contained in the letter 866-231-0175.
For some background, this lawsuit was first filed in 1998 and involves more than 1,000 Plaintiffs that lived near or worked at the Hayes-Sammons pesticide warehouse. One defendant settled in 2005 and four defendants settled in 2006, leaving several defendants refusing to offer meaningful settlement of figures. The first two settlements were dispersed to the Plaintiffs in 2005 and 2006. The final defendants were pushed to trial in 2009 and settled shortly after trial began. This final disbursement covers all the remaining defendants and fully concludes the lawsuit.
A major roadblock faced by the Plaintiffs was a Supreme Court decision handed down during the course of the last phase of the Hayes-Sammons lawsuit in 2007. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in Borg-Warner Corp v. Flores that a Plaintiff in a toxic tort case must prove that a particular defendants product was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiffs injury. The Hayes-Sammons case involved exposure to numerous different toxic chemicals. The makeup of the exposure comprised a sort of “toxic soup” manufactured by different defendants. This made it extremely difficult, even for the most reputable scientific experts, to prove that over the course of each person’s exposure – sometimes 40 or more years – their cancer, for example, was caused by a defendant’s particular chemical.
In addition, because of newly enacted Medicare and Medicaid rules, requiring reimbursement for payments made for injuries caused by the defendants, the Court approved the use of a third-party administrator to negotiate with Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the lien amounts. This process started in 2014 and was not completed until December 2022. Without the medical liens resolved, the case could not be finalized.
The negotiations with Medicaid and Medicare were delayed for a few reasons. First, many claimants have passed away during this exceedingly complicated case, complex case. The Court Appointed Special Master, along with the attorneys, were required to track down thousands of heirs of deceased claimants in order to ensure that they were able to receive their share of the proceeds. Second, the regional office for the Center of Medicare Services in charge of negotiations moved its offices from Dallas, Texas, to San Francisco, California, during negotiations, setting back much of the progress made on negotiating the many thousand of liens. Finally, after the Medicaid/Medicare liens were resolved, one defendants failed to honor its funding obligations, which required additional litigation.
We are happy to announce that the settlement is now fully funded, and checks are being prepared. Initial checks should be issued within the next few weeks. The faster claimants confirm their address and contact information through the settlement hotline, the sooner checks will disperse. The lawyers for the plaintiffs have not been paid their attorneys fees and will not be paid their fees until initial checks are sent out.
Despite the burdens placed on this case, by the Borg-Warner decision and other factors, a major victory for the plaintiffs was the focus that the Hayes-Sammons lawsuit placed on the contaminated property, compelling federal regulators to work hard to clean up the affected properties. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spent millions of dollars and excavated tons of contaminated soil in response to this lawsuit. Millions more dollars will now go to the Plaintiffs and their families in this third and final settlement.
Signed by the attorneys representing the Plaintiffs:
Dennis C. Reich
Linda Laurent Thomas
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
Judge Dwight Jefferson
Judge Fernando Mancias.
J. Michael Moore,
Michael C. Cowen
Sergio J. Sanchez
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