$2.375M settlement granted in chemotherapy class-action suit

$2.375M settlement granted in chemotherapy class-action suit

The controversial class-action lawsuit involving nearly 1,200 cancer patients who were given diluted chemotherapy drugs was approved Friday afternoon.

Superior Court Justice Gregory Verbeem gave a detailed decision outlining why he felt the $2.375-million settlement was fair. Some of the patients involved in the lawsuit had criticized the deal, saying they deserved more than the $1,500 each of them would receive.

"The science didn't support any damages really, but we were able to convince the defendants to pay us something," said Mike Peerless, a lawyer for the victims. "There, for sure, wasn't going to be a better settlement. There was going to be this settlement or no settlement."

Majority supported settlement

Patients in Windsor, Ont., London and New Brunswick were given lower than intended doses of cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine during treatments in 2012.

When the error was identified in 2013, a class-action lawsuit was launched by Sutts, Strosberg LLP and McKenzie, Lake Lawyers LLP.

The victims packed a Windsor courtroom in January, imploring Justice Verbeem to reject the $2.375-million figure as inadequate because it only provided victims with a small sum.  

Colleen Campbell was one of the family members who opposed the decision. She lost her husband and her sister to cancer. Both were among the 1,200 patients in Ontario and New Brunswick who were given the lower-than-intended doses.

But the number of people who opposed the settlement made up just a small portion of the 1,200, Peerless told CBC. About 95 per cent of the families supported the amount.

"The vast majority completely understood," he said. "There were just a few — who were vocal and who got a lot of (news) coverage because of it — who were upset."