The Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund (TVCF) is a special fund set up by the state of Missouri specifically to help people who were hurt in a personal injury incident but were unable to secure all the financial compensation they needed to pay for their damages. The fund can provide additional compensation to anyone who received insufficient recoveries.
While the TVCF has existed for over a decade, it was chronically underfunded. Because of a lack of funding, claims for the TVCF were rare. For example, just 19 claims were filed in 2017, resulting in $881,000 total paid out to victims. The average annual number of claims over a five-year period was just 67.
Since the majority of personal injury cases in St. Louis are resolved out-of-court through a voluntary settlement, cases that proceeded to the point of a trial verdict were rare. However, the landmark 2018 verdict in the Johnson & Johnson talc powder ovarian cancer case secured over $2 billion in punitive damages, following an appeal decision that cut the overall award in half. This made around $480,000,000 available to provide additional compensation to injury victims and to legal services.
In 2022, Goldblatt + Singer obtained 41 judgments in a short period of time to establish TVCF claims for clients who had no other avenues of recovery.
When news of the fund contribution first came out, our partner, Amanda Murphy, immediately formed a six-person team dedicated solely to assisting these individuals. The law firm is grateful to Luke Dalton, a G+S attorney, who volunteered to get as many judgments as he could to establish TVCF liability for clients who had no other avenues of recovery. In some cases, he, and his paralegal, Mackenzie Hise, contacted former clients of the firm and asked if they could reopen their cases to give this a shot. The firm started working on judgments in the summer of 2022. Luke Dalton joined the effort in September. From there, he and Mackenzie, service of process extraordinaire, were able to obtain judgments in the following cases, many in roughly four months’ time.
An excerpt from an early team email written by firm partner, Amanda Murphy, really resonated with the G+S team and what they were trying to do:
These are human beings who have seen the worst of the worst. Their life ruined over a crash, and when there was no insurance, no one cared and they were left to suffer with nothing. I want to work on these cases more than any other cases I’ve had. Cases with injuries as severe as [clients]’s that I’ve had to let go of and tell the client there is simply nothing we can do stick with me forever. It’s enjoyable to search them out and call them with a potential solution [the TVCF] they never saw coming.
“TVCF claims are pending and results are not guaranteed,” said Amanda Murphy. “But this has been some of the most rewarding work the firm has ever done—giving people who have given up a little hope for the future. And, the team’s success rate in obtaining judgments is newsworthy in the firm’s book.”
Goldblatt + Singer is extremely grateful to Mark Lanier, his team, and the women who suffered dearly with cancer, along with their families, who fought the fight and achieved the verdict that would ultimately lead to providing hope for so many others.
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