Sybil Niden Goldrich
CLAIMANTS' ADVISORY COMMITTEE NEWSLETTER
Volume 1, No. 1, July 1, 2004
Welcome to the first e-newsletter from the Claimants' Advisory Committee (CAC) in the Dow Corning bankruptcy Settlement Plan. You were sent a copy of the newsletter because our records show that you requested to be on the mailing list. If you wish to unsubscribe, click the link below. This newsletter is intended only for claimants in the Dow Corning Settlement Plan and attorneys or legal professionals who represent claimants in the Settlement Plan. If you are not a claimant or an attorney representing claimants, you are not authorized to receive this e-newsletter and should inform us promptly.
The CAC established this e-newsletter to provide claimants and attorneys with updates about the Settlement Plan, primarily about the Settlement Option, although we will provide information about the Litigation Option when it becomes available. We urge you to also visit the Settlement Facility website (www.dcsettlement.com) and CAC website (www.tortcomm.org) on a regular basis to download or view relevant documents and read updates and new information.
1. Informational Meetings. Informational meetings have been scheduled in the U.S. for 8 major cities. The meetings are sponsored by Settlement Facility, in coordination with the CAC, to provide Dow Corning Breast Implant and Other Product claimants and attorneys representing claimants with information about the Settlement Option. The Claimants' Advisory Committee will also be present to provide information and answer questions about both the Settlement and Litigation Options, although the primary emphasis of the meetings will be on the Settlement Option. The meetings will not focus on Class 7 options (Silicone Gel Claimants) at this time. Additional meetings outside of the U.S. are under consideration. For information about the claimant meeting schedule, check the Settlement Facility and CAC websites.
2. Claims Assistance Program. The Settlement Facility phone lines - as many callers have found out -- have been extremely busy since the Effective Date occurred on June 1, 2004. The claims office is aware of the difficulties some claimants have experienced in trying to reach them and, in response, they have extended their calling hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time Monday - Friday, and they have been working overtime to handle the increased volume of calls. They gave us the following recommendations to pass along:
3. Notice of Intent Eligibility. In February 2004, Dow Corning filed a motion to establish procedures to determine whether persons who filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) form after November 30, 1999 and by August 30, 2004 and who do not match to a Rule 3005 filing by a co-debtor are eligible to participate in the Settlement Plan. The Tort Claimants' Committee (TCC) filed a response objecting to Dow Corning's position. While the motion was pending, Dow Corning and the TCC agreed to a process to determine whether the disputed NOI claims are likely to be "material."
- The highest volume days to call are Monday - Wednesday; therefore, the Claims Assistance Program suggests that you call on Thursday and Fridays, particularly in the afternoon.
- You may leave a voicemail message on the telephone lines or send an e-mail to: email@example.com. Please allow up to 10 days to receive a response before trying to contact Claims Assistance again. They are working to respond to each individual inquiry and give it the attention it deserves. In addition, they are prioritizing inquiries so that claimants who are calling about a notification letter they've received (which means that a deadline to cure the deficiency is running), who need replacement claim forms, or who request a Notice of Intent form receive immediate attention. If you are calling about the status of your claim, please be patient. These inquiries will be answered as quickly as possible.
- Claimants in Class 7 (Silicone Gel Claimants) who have questions about the status of processing or payment of their claim are urged NOT to call at this time. Because of the way the Silicone Gel Fund is set up, no claims can be paid this calendar year for Class 7 claimants.
- Questions about the Revised Settlement Program should be directed to the MDL Claims Office at 1-800-600-0311 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The MDL Claims Office handles settlements involving implants for Bristol, Baxter, 3M and Post-8/84 McGhan. If you have one of these implants and have never registered for the Revised Settlement Program, you are urged to contact the MDL Claims Office for further information about your legal rights.
Part of the process that has been agreed to is to send a survey to NOI claimants who, at least preliminarily, do not match to a Rule 3005 co-debtor filing. This survey has not been finalized yet, but the CAC believes that it will be finalized and mailed in early July 2004. We will update the CAC website with more information about this when the survey is finalized.
4. Common Questions We've Received. Common questions that we've received over the past several weeks are described below. When we receive questions of this nature, we draft a "Q&A" and try to reach an agreed answer that can be posted on the Settlement Facility website. We urge you to check that site regularly for new Q&A's.
5. Proof of Manufacturer Issues. We are interested in hearing from claimants whose proof of manufacturer consists of any of the following and who have been rejected as acceptable proof by the Settlement Facility: a) you participated in a clinical study and received a Dow Corning implant in the study, but you are having difficulty establishing this; b) your implants have been removed and someone has identified them as Dow Corning, but this proof has been rejected; or c) you received a 50% reduction in the Revised Settlement Program (RSP) because you had a Bristol, Baxter or 3M implant and a Dow Corning implant, but your Proof of Manufacturer for your Dow Corning implant is now being rejected by the Settlement Facility and/or Dow Corning. Please send all examples of this type of proof rejection to the CAC at: email@example.com.
- To trigger a review of your claim, you must submit the Participation Form with the Settlement Option box (box 2A) checked (unless you already submitted a valid Waiver of Opt-Out Form electing settlement). Once you submit a Participation Form, then you must submit the Proof of Manufacturer Form and acceptable proof that you have an eligible implant before your claim for benefits will be reviewed. The Settlement Facility will NOT review a claim for explant, rupture or disease until you first submit these two forms.
- If you applied for several benefits, such as Explant and Rupture, the Settlement Facility will issue a separate award letter and separate check for each approved benefit. For example, if you received an Explant award letter and it did not mention the status of your Rupture claim, please do not be concerned. You will eventually receive a notification letter for each benefit that you applied for.
- Each check that is mailed has language on it that endorsing the check will serve as additional evidence of the release of "Released Parties" under the Plan. Endorsing or cashing a check does NOT mean that you are releasing your right to other benefits under the Plan (except that payments for Expedited Release are waiving and releasing their right to a Disease payment in the future). For example, a claimant that received an Explant payment can endorse and cash this check without waiving her right to receive a Rupture and Disease payment, if eligible.
- Prior to the Effective Date of June 1, 2004, the Plan Proponents directed the claims office to give priority to the processing of proof of manufacturer claims for Dow Corning Breast Implant and Other Products Claimants. This was to allow those claimants who submitted documentation to be informed of their proof status prior to making a decision to opt-out. If you submitted a Proof of Manufacturer Form and documents prior to the Effective Date of June 1, 2004, then you WILL receive a letter from the claims office informing you of the status of your proof. Every effort is being made to prioritize these claims so that the notification letter will be sent out within the next several months.
HOWEVER, if you did not submit a Proof of Manufacturer Form and documents prior to June 1, 2004, then the claims office will NOT review your proof until you first elect the Settlement Option on the Participation Form.
- For the reasons noted above, the claims office was asked to prioritize proof of manufacturer for Dow Corning Breast Implant and Other Products Claimants and Explant submissions for review prior to the Effective Date. Therefore, the majority of notification and award letters that have been sent to claimants are for Explant and Expedited Release payments. The claims office is now also prioritizing Rupture claims for immediate review and payment. If you submitted a Rupture claim, please be patient for just a short while longer.
6. Dow Corning To Review Breast Implants. Dow Corning has recently agreed to review removed implants for claimants in the Settlement Option to determine if they were made by Dow Corning. Contact the Claims Assistance Program for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
7. Pending Plan Interpretations. There are two Plan interpretations which have been presented to the Claims Administrator for a decision. They are:
8. Deadlines. Please mark your calendar with all upcoming deadlines in 2004:
- Whether Dow Corning tissue expanders implanted in the breast are eligible as Class 5, 6.1 or 6.2 Breast Implant Claimants or whether they are considered not-Covered Other Products in Class 9, 10.1 or 10.2. The CAC believes that they should be considered as Breast Implants and eligible for compensation. Dow Corning has objected to this proposed interpretation;
- Whether the 24 month /5 year period requirement for Disease Option 2 claims is tolled during the pendency of the bankruptcy (May 15, 1995 to June 1, 2004) or whether the tolling only applies to the "5 year" requirement. The CAC believes that the tolling applies to the 24 month/5 year period. Dow Corning has objected to this proposed interpretation.
August 11, 2004
Deadline for late claimants (claimants who filed ONLY an NOI form but no Proof of Claim form prior to November 30, 1999) to file a Proof of Claim Form pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Confirmation Order
August 30, 2004
Deadline to file a Notice of Intent form
November 29, 2004
Deadline to opt-out of the Settlement Option by returning the Participation Form with Box 2B checked
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