Sybil Niden Goldrich
Ernest Hornsby, Esq.
Dianna Pendleton-Dominguez, Esq.
CLAIMANTS' ADVISORY COMMITTEE E-NEWSLETTER
Volume 2, No. 2, February 10, 2005
IMPORTANT UPDATE ON THE STATUS OF CLAIMS PROCESSING AT THE SETTLEMENT FACILITY
Over the last six months, the CAC has received thousands of emails, letters and phone calls from claimants and counsel regarding the slow processing and payment of claims at the Settlement Facility. We have also reviewed claims data and information provided to us in monthly reports generated by the Settlement Facility. Since July 2004, the CAC has expressed our deep concern to the management at the Settlement Facility on numerous occasions about the slow rate of processing and other processing problems. Frankly, we were disappointed with the answers we received.
We met with representatives of Dow Corning who are on the official committee called the Debtor's Representatives. They shared our and your concern that claims processing and payments appeared to be progressing very slowly. In December 2004, the CAC and Debtor's Representatives wrote a joint letter to the Finance Committee detailing our concern about, among other things, the claims processing and payment delays. We also requested an outside management consultant be hired to review the claims processing procedures at the Settlement Facility and report back on his findings and recommendations. On January 26, 2005, the Court authorized the Finance Committee to hire Claims Management Resolution Corporation "to conduct a claims and operations audit of the Settlement Facility Dow Corning Trust (SF-DCT). (A copy of the order will be posted on the CAC website under "Court Orders.") The formal report is expected soon, and we are hopeful that the report will lead to major changes and improvements.
Here is what we have learned thus far from our own investigation. The Settlement Facility informs us that they are current on processing Proof of Manufacturer Claims for Dow Corning breast implant claims through November 2004. They are not currently reviewing Proof of Manufacturer (or underlying claims) for Class 7 - Silicone Gel Claimants. Explant, Rupture and Disease claims have a significant backlog. Currently, the Settlement Facility is processing claims submitted in the spring of 2003, and there are in excess of 50,000 total pending claims in Class 5, 6.1 and 6.2 alone.
We have communicated to the Settlement Facility that this backlog, the slow rate of processing and paying claims, and the lack of any processing for Class 7 and 9 is unacceptable. We have also expressed our concern with the way the claims appear to be interpreted and found deficient whereas similar claims in the Revised Settlement Program were paid. The CAC has filed a number of motions with the Court that (1) seek to force the Settlement Facility to reveal the criteria they are using to interpret claim submissions and to toll any cure deadline for persons who were not provided accurate information, (2) toll the cure deadlines for requests for re-reviews that are pending in excess of 21 days, and (3) to add an additional proof of manufacturer protocol for Dow Corning breast implants for implantations done in the U.S. prior to 1970. Each of these motions can be read or downloaded on the CAC website under "Pending Motions." Claimants and counsel have reported to us that they were able to schedule a time to speak directly with one of the two nurse reviewers at the Claims Assistance Program who have provided detailed information needed to cure a deficiency. We urge all claimants who have a cure deadline running to make use of this service by calling Claims Assistance (1-866-874-6099) and asking to speak directly to a nurse reviewer.
Also, as of today, the CAC is posting information about the status of claims payments and opt-out information. We are pleased to report that the number of opt out claims is very small (approximately 800) and is much less than anyone expected. The news media has also begun to report on the slow processing. The Detroit Free Press, Midland Daily News (Midland, Michigan) and the AP wire service all ran stories yesterday. The AP story appeared in many major newspapers today. For more information about the media reports, please go to http://www.freep.com/index/health.htm and http://www.ourmidland.com (to read the full story, you must register at no cost and no obligation and then search for Dow Corning). For information about the current claims data on paid claims, please go to the CAC website (www.tortcomm.org) and click on "Claims Data". We are working to release more information on the status of pending claims and will update the CAC website - and send out additional e-newsletters - when this information becomes available.
The CAC remains committed to taking whatever action is necessary to address the problems we believe exist within the Settlement Facility and to ensure that claims are processed quickly, efficiently, and in the same manner that claims in the Revised Settlement Program were processed and paid.
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