A couple weeks back I wrote about the rare window one blog has opened into AstraZeneca's hush-hush settlement of thousands of claims surrounding its antipsychotic drug, Seroquel. The Seroquel Lawsuits Blog, run by an anonymous blogger who claims to be a Seroquel victim, has been posting settlement offer letters Seroquel plaintiffs have received from the law firms that represent them. I took at look at the blog's disclosure of the letter Weitz & Luxenberg supposedly sent clients (a Weitz partner denied the posted letter was an exact replica of the ones it sent out). Seroquel Lawsuits also posted a settlement offer letter sent to a client of The Miller Law Firm, which purportedly got a $6.9 million pot from AZ to divide amongst its Seroquel clients.
Both the Weitz and Miller letters contained warnings to clients not to reveal the letters' contents. Now it seems that the Miller Firm and the Garretson Resolution Group, which is administering claims in the Seroquel settlement, are not happy about the disclosures. The Seroquel Lawsuits blog posted letters from both firms last Friday, in which Miller and Garretson ordered the client who disclosed his settlement offer to stop divulging confidential information.
"We request that you immediately and permanently cease and desist from posting, distributing, or otherwise making available the information," the Garretson letter said. "We demand that you contact the owner and operator of the [Seroquel Lawsuits] blog and have your entire [settlement] package immediately removed from the website based on copyright infringement and the release of confidential information." The Miller letter pointed out that the settlement information is confidential. "We must make you aware that the defendant AstraZeneca could seek redress against you for disseminating information regarding the terms of the confidential settlement." (The Garretson associate general counsel who signed the letter posted at Seroquel Lawsuits confirmed that the letter is authentic but said she could not comment; she referred me to a Garretson spokesperson who did not respond to a phone message. Michael Miller of the Miller Firm, whose signature is on the posted letter, said he did not write it. He said another lawyer at his firm would get back to me, but no one did.)
AstraZeneca spokesman Tony Jewell said in an e-mail response to my questions that AZ has no position on the disclosure of claimants' settlement letters. He declined comment on whether the company will rescind settlement offers if it doesn't get releases from a specified percentage of plaintiffs.
The Seroquel Lawsuits blogger, who spoke to me without disclosing his name, said he believes the plaintiffs firms are trying to intimidate activist clients in order to protect the fees they will earn if the settlements go through. He said he has not been contacted directly by either firm, but is almost certain they know who he is. "They can come after me," he said. "I'm not afraid of them."
I asked the blogger if he was concerned that his posts could derail settlements that many Seroquel plaintiffs want to accept. He said he is not. "Five thousand dollars isn't going to change anyone's life," he told me. "I'm holding a pin, and I'm trying to fend off a herd of charging elephants."
(Reporting by Alison Frankel)
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