Settlement planning and administration seemingly have nothing to do with the environment. At Milestone, we work with trial lawyers and plaintiffs to ensure their settlements are as impactful as possible – how could that role possibly help the earth?
Our environmental impact comes from the cases we’ve participated in. For more than a decade, Milestone has served in a variety of capacities in environmental class actions and multidistrict litigation – ranging from qualified settlement fund administrator to plaintiffs’ settlement planning advocate. On Earth Day, we’re looking back at three big cases.
BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
BP reached a $7.8 billion settlement involving the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP had ignored critical safety protocols and procedures, which resulted in devastating consequences for not only the Gulf and its wildlife populations, but also the people and businesses in the region.
With such a broad range of damages in this litigation, many of the plaintiffs needed trusted settlement advisors to guide them through government benefits preservation and long-term financial planning and to help them understand the tax implications of their incoming settlement funds. Milestone consulted with many of the plaintiffs, customizing strategies to each individual to ensure their settlement benefited them as much as possible.
Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, a St. Louis corporation, had a big role in the development of the first nuclear weapons. By the mid 1940s, the company had begun shipping radioactive waste in bulk offsite to an underpopulated area north of St. Louis. The materials were stored on the ground next to Coldwater Creek, a tributary to the Missouri River. Coldwater Creek became increasingly contaminated over time, exposing the nearby community to ionizing radiation for decades. As a result, many people in the area developed cancers associated with this type of exposure.
In 2019, Mallinckrodt reached a settlement with members of the community who suffered or lost loved ones from cancer tied to the radiation. Milestone served as administrator of the litigation’s qualified settlement fund involving more than 440 claimants. A QSF is a trust that holds settlement proceeds past the conclusion of a lawsuit, allowing extra time for the plaintiffs and attorneys to plan for their portions of the settlement. Our team handled the distribution of the settlement, ensuring that all people involved received their funds in a timely and organized manner.
In June 2020, Bayer announced a $10.9 billion settlement agreement to resolve more than 100,000 lawsuits over its weedkiller, Roundup. Many of the plaintiffs developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using the glyphosate-based herbicide; others brought lawsuits against Bayer after losing family members to this form of cancer. Monsanto, the company that developed Roundup and was later acquired by Bayer, allegedly knew about the risks yet continued to market the weedkiller as safe for commercial and backyard use. At settlement, Milestone served as administrator for several QSFs in the Roundup litigation. We also provided comprehensive settlement planning consultations to several hundred individuals.
While our work does not change the negligence that has happened in these cases nor the environmental impact of them, we’re proud to support those who have obtained justice. It is our hope that these and other settlements send a message to large corporations that they must prioritize the health and wellness of people, communities, and the environment.