Trials & Litigation

2 lawyers who rejected $9.5M attorney fee in Prempro case will get $21.8M

Two lead lawyers in long-running litigation over Pfizer’s Inc.’s Prempro menopause drug have more than doubled their own payout by challenging a plan to allocate them less than $10 million of a $62 million common-benefit fund for attorney fees.

Federal court filings in Little Rock, Arkansas, say fellow plaintiffs lawyers in the consolidated case have now agreed that Zoe Littlepage and Rainey Booth will get $21.8 million from the fund rather than $9.52 million, Bloomberg reports.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson, Littlepage, who is based in Houston, said she and Booth, who practices out of Pensacola, Florida, compromised during mediation to reach a settlement on the attorney fee issue. The accord must still be approved by Wilson before it is final.

The two spearheaded litigation over hormone replacement therapies said to cause breast cancer, battling Pfizer and its Upjohn and Wyeth units in court for over a decade, starting in 2003. The litigation, which concerned some 8,500 women, contended the companies concealed and failed to warn patients of risks associated with the menopause drugs to increase sales. Pfizer said in a securities regulatory filling last year that it had spent about $1.7 billion to resolve almost all of the cases.

Observers, including professor Erik Gordon of the University of Michigan, agreed that the two lead lawyers had earned the higher award, Bloomberg reports.

“In many common-benefit cases, the value of the attorneys’ work to the plaintiffs is low, and the amount of the attorneys’ fees is suspect,” said Gordon, who teaches at the university’s business and law schools, in an email. “But this is a case in which the attorneys battled as hard for the injured parties as they did for themselves.”

An earlier Bloomberg article provides additional details.

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