Delaware Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights III has approved a $123 million settlement in the class-action lawsuit brought by victims of pedophile pediatrician Earl Bradley against Beebe Medical Center, the Medical Society of Delaware and several other doctors.
The settlement is believed to be the third largest in U.S. history. The settlement gives compensation to Bradley’s child victims, while also allowing Beebe to avoid bankruptcy.
“The court is satisfied that the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate,” Slights wrote in his opinion. “The court is satisfied that certification of a limited fund class-action was the only way to ensure that all victims could be compensated in this instance given the scope and severity of the sexual abuse alleged here.”
Slights referred to the settlement as a limited fund or non-opt-out settlement, meaning the only way a victim of Bradley’s abuse may seek compensation is through the class. Victims still have until Friday, Dec. 14, to join the class.
A newly released aspect of the settlement sets attorneys' fees at 22.5 percent of the settlement. Attorneys originally agreed with their clients to a 33 percent share of the settlement, but ultimately agreed to a fee of 22.5 percent.
In total, class counsel will be awarded nearly $28 million and will be reimbursed $2 million for past and future costs and expenses. The available fund for the estimated 900 to 1,000 victims will be $89 million, plus $3 million in reserve for future treatment of victims.
Beebe President and CEO Jeffrey Fried said, 'It was always our priority to get as much money as possible to the victims and their families - that's why we expressed concern about the fees."
"I feel that this does take Beebe out of the path of bankruptcy,” he said. “It relieves Beebe of all claims. But, we think avoiding bankruptcy ultimately makes more money available to the victims.”
Plaintiffs' attorney Chase Brockstedt said, “The court’s opinion reflects what has been a fair and reasonable process all the way to the settlement. There is a lot of work to be done.”
The primary source of the money - $112 million - comes from Beebe’s insurance carriers. Beebe has also contributed $6 million in cash, $100,000 per year over the next five years and $1 million in services for the victims through 2027. The medical services would include any healthcare available at Beebe or any Beebe-owned facility.
Another $3 million came from insurers for the medical society. With an approved settlement, there can be no future claims against any of the defendants.
The settlement will be administered as a trust by former Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Rutter under the ultimate supervision of the Court of Chancery. Rutter will be assisted by Dr. Anne Steinberg, a pediatrician and expert on treatment of child sexual abuse.
Mike Mustokoff, lead attorney for Beebe, said, “We’re grateful this ends the ugliest chapter in the history of Beebe hospital.”
Slights wrote that the settlement marks the end of litigation arising out of Bradley’s 15-year reign of terror and abuse. He said while no monetary amount can atone for Bradley’s crimes, with litigation now behind them, the settlement could serve as the beginning of healing.
Slights ended his opinion quoting W. H. Auden, “In the deserts of the heart, let the healing fountain start.”
To read the full settlement, see the link below.