Alcon Vision and Johnson & Manley have agreed to pay a total of $75 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the companies of price fixing on disposable contact lenses. More than a third of the total settlement amount will go toward plaintiffs’ attorney fees, a federal judge in Florida said Wednesday.
The order from U. S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger, in the particular Middle District of Florida, directs Alcon Vision to pay $20 million. Johnson & Johnson Eyesight Care Inc. must pay $55 mil. Two other firms had previously decided to pay $13 million, bringing the total to $88 million. The settlement was informally agreed in order to in June but was made official this week. Bausch & Lomb and Cooper Vision Incorporation. had agreed to a settlement in 2019.
After a hearing Wednesday, the judge also decided to award $32 mil to plaintiffs’ attorneys, which may include lawyers within Florida, California and New York.
The particular order did not indicate if Alcon, which is part of Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, and J& J, the personal-care products giant, are fully self-insured, or if insurers may have to cover part of the arrangement payments. In recent years, Johnson & Johnson, like other large corporations, has utilized the captive company to handle its liability insurance coverage, according to news reports.
At least 15 plaintiffs were initially listed in the complaint but the final number of class members was not mentioned. The companies and attorneys in the case could not be reached Thursday.
The case began within 2015. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, including Robert Gilbert plus Steven Marks of Miami, charged that will the manufacturers had conspired with each other and with the wholesaler ABB Concise Optical Group, along with optometrists and the American Optometric Association, to set a floor on prices for the contacts. The agreement deterred competition and prevented Walmart, Costco and other retailers from discounting the products.
“As eye care professionals themselves have acknowledged, this new pricing scheme represents a ‘fundamental shift’ in how contact lenses are sold to consumers, ” the particular complaint noted.
The plaintiffs made it clear that they were not alleging that the defendants had conspired to fix prices at the same level, but had worked to eliminate the discounting practices and to establish a minimum price. That is considered the violation associated with U. H. antitrust laws as established by previous court rulings, they stated.
Eye treatment professionals played an unique role because they both prescribe and sell disposable lenses, making them the gatekeepers of the disposable contact lens market, the injured parties said. Contact lenses are the only prescription medical device sold in the United States pursuant to what became known as an unilateral pricing policy that will set the floor on costs, they charged.
The particular complaint included charts showing that prices offered by eye care professional companies were significantly higher than online and mass merchandisers in many cases.
Alcon plus Johnson & Johnson, which usually between all of them controlled more than 65% of the particular U. T. lens marketplace in the mid-2010s, denied most of the allegations and failed to admit any wrongdoing in agreeing to the negotiation.
The contract comes amid an era of multiple product liability suits against J& J. The company within September announced it will certainly soon halt sales associated with its talcum baby powder product after decades of litigation plus billions associated with dollars in verdicts over the alleged presence of asbestos within the powder, which plaintiffs have argued has been linked to cancer.
J& J earned scorn through plaintiffs last year when it created a subsidiary in order to absorb the particular talcum natural powder liabilities, then the subsidiary quickly filed for bankruptcy protection. A challenge towards the bankruptcy is now pending before the federal court in Pennsylvania, according to news reviews.