PHILADELPHIA, April 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit regarding the compensation provided to women who have previously donated their own human eggs for assisted fertility and reproductive services and who intend to donate again in the future. The lawsuit is Kamakahi et al. v. American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, Case No. CV-11-1781 (JCS). Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the defendants are obligated to make certain changes to their ethical guidance regarding compensation for egg donors.
What is this lawsuit about?
This class action was brought on behalf of women who donated human eggs for reproductive purposes through fertility clinics and donation agencies that agreed to comply with an ethical report issued by Defendant American Society for Reproductive Medicine ("ASRM") and followed by Defendant Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology ("SART"). The challenged portion of the ethical report states: "[t]otal payments to donors in excess of $5,000 require justification and sums above $10,000 are not appropriate." Plaintiffs allege that these challenged compensation guidelines are enforced by Defendants and constitute a horizontal price fixing agreement in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Defendants disagree that the challenged compensation guidelines are unlawful, and contend that the challenged compensation guidelines are merely unenforced recommendations.
Who is included?
You are a member of the Settlement Class if you:
- Donated eggs for assisted reproduction purposes,
- Within the United States and its territories,
- At any time from April 12, 2007 to the present,
- To or through any clinic that was, at the time of the donation, a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology ("SART") and/or any egg donation agency that was, at the time of the donation, agreeing to follow the challenged compensation guidelines (a "Complying Agency"), and
- Intend to provide such donor services to or through a SART- member clinic or Complying Agency in the future.
What does the settlement provide?
The Court has preliminarily certified a Rule 23(b)(2) settlement class consisting of those women who have donated human eggs in the past and intend to donate in the future. The Settlement Agreement requires the defendants to eliminate the challenged compensation guidelines and refrain from setting similar guidelines in the future. The Settlement Agreement does not provide any monetary payments to class members and class members retain any rights that they have to sue for damages. Because important time limits may apply to claims for damages, any class member wishing to pursue a claim for damages should consult a lawyer to prevent a claim for damages from being barred forever by a time limit. Class Members will, however, release existing claims for injunctive, declaratory, or any other form of equitable relief arising from the conduct alleged in the class action, the setting of any dollar amounts, limits or ranges for donor compensation, or to the challenged compensation guidelines.
Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Defendants have agreed to pay plaintiffs' attorneys $1.5 million to compensate them for their time and expenses in litigating the class action. Neither the named plaintiffs nor the class members are obligated to pay the attorneys any money.
The Defendants have also agreed to pay the four named plaintiffs a total of $20,000 in return for their release of all claims they have against the Defendants, including claims for damages. The attorneys representing the class will ask the Court to approve payment of $5000 to each of the four named plaintiffs.
All of the terms of the proposed Settlement, including the requirement to eliminate the challenged compensation guidelines, the payments to the attorneys, and the payments to the named plaintiffs are subject to Court approval at a "Final Approval Hearing" which will be explained below. A copy of the Settlement Agreement can be accessed at eggdonorclassaction.com.
The Defendants do not admit liability as part of the Settlement and the Court has not found that the Defendants have violated the law.
What are my rights?
You cannot exclude yourself from the settlement. However, you can ask the Court to deny approval by filing an objection. You can't ask the Court to change the terms of the settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the settlement. If the Court denies approval, the lawsuit will continue. If that is what you want to happen, you must object.
You may object to the proposed settlement in writing. You may also appear at the Final Approval Hearing, either in person or through your own attorney. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers must (a) clearly identify the case name and number (Kamakahi et al. v. American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, Case No. CV-11-1781 (JCS)), (b) be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to the Class Action Clerk, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, or by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and (c) be filed or postmarked on or before July 29, 2016.
When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?
The Final Approval Hearing will be held on August 26, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. at Courtroom G, 15th Floor, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102. The date may change without further notice to the class. Class members wishing to attend the Final Approval Hearing should check this website to confirm that the date has not been changed.
Who represents the Class?
The attorneys representing the Class are:
Bryan L. Clobes
CAFFERTY CLOBES MERIWETHER
& SPRENGEL LLP
1101 Market Street, Suite 2650
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Michael G. McLellan
Douglas G. Thompson
FINKELSTEIN THOMPSON LLP
1077 30th Street NW, Suite 150
Washington, DC 20007
Where can I get more information?
This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. For the precise terms and conditions of the settlement, please see the Settlement Agreement available at eggdonorclassaction.com, by contacting class counsel identified above, by accessing the Court docket in this case through the Court's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.
PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK'S OFFICE
TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT
Contact: Ellen Meriwether
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-law-offices-of-finkelstein-thompson-llp-and-cafferty-clobes-meriwether--sprengel-llp-announce-the-settlement-of-a-class-action-lawsuit-against-the-society-for-assisted-reproductive-technology-sart-and-the-american-society-300244849.html
SOURCE Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP