Court Distributes $8.9 Million to Women's Health Organizations, Universities, and Charities Nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Michael W. Sobol, a partner with the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announces that U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle today awarded $8.9 million to 12 leading organizations, universities, and charities devoted to promoting women's health and well-being across the nation.

The awards complete the distribution of $8.9 million in residual funds of the $16.5 million settlement brought on behalf of plaintiffs and class members represented by Mr. Sobol and Lieff Cabraser, along with the Minneapolis, Minnesota law firm, Gustafson Gluek, against drug manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The consumer protection lawsuit was brought by purchasers of the hormone replacement drug Estratest who charged that Solvay deceptively marketed and falsely advertised Estratest. After payment to class members who submit timely claims, here $7.5 million was paid to class members, a court may distribute any residue funds to nonprofit and charitable organizations whose work serves the underlying objectives of the lawsuit.

"In a time of strained resources for public and non-profit organizations, today's decision will provide substantial financial assistance for renowned organizations and important programs nationwide and in the Bay Area that are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and their families. After all, it was women who purchased Estratest for treatment of symptoms of menopause," stated Sobol.

Sixty percent of the residue funds was awarded, in the amount of $1.066 million each, to support programs and activities related to women's health concerns at the Mayo Clinic and four university medical schools, University of California, San Francisco, the University of Minnesota, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Meharry Medical College.

"Since its establishment in 2001, the UCSF Women’s Health Clinical Research Center has greatly increased multidisciplinary clinical and translational research advancing women’s health across the lifespan. We greatly appreciate the continued support and will continue to grow collaborative research programs that improve the lives of women," said Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, founder and co-director of the UCSF WHCRC.

The other 40% of the residue funds were divided equally, in the amount of $592,277, among six non-profit groups who are either leading organizations in the United States dedicated to the study and treatment of menopausal symptoms, or organizations that promote the health and welfare of women and children. These organizations are the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), the Hormone Foundation, Menopause Alliance, Sojourner Project, Safe Haven Family Shelter, and the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. Finally, the Court awarded $100,000 to the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s The Pro Se Project, whose purpose is to provide pro se representation to civil litigants in the District of Minnesota.

"This award will have a profound impact in our community to ensure that every child is safe and protected and grows up in a loving and nurturing family," said Katie Albright, Executive Director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Information on the Award Recipients

University of Minnesota, Deborah E. Powell Center for Women’s Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The purpose of the Deborah E. Powell Center for Women’s Health is to cultivate research partnerships that have the ability to impact the health of women and their communities. Its notable efforts include an Annual Women’s Health Research Conference, the “Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Program," and the Minnesota Women's Healthy Heart Project (MWHHP) that offers cardiovascular screening for immigrant and minority women over the age of 18. The MWHHP aims to increase access to cardiovascular screening for women who experience health disparities because the programs currently in place in the area are not adequately reaching these communities.

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, New York

The Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization and is the first and largest integrated group health practice in the world. It has more than 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff who care for half a million patients annually. The Mayo Clinic has strong research programs relevant to menopause within the discipline of endocrinology. Since 1995, the Endocrinology Department at Mayo Clinic has been designated as best in the nation in the objective ranking of U.S. Best Hospitals published annually by U.S. News and World Report.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a national leader in research to enhance quality of care, build systems of care, and improve health outcomes for women. With senior investigators from the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Vanderbilt proposes to design and conduct research to test practical and cost-effective methods to promote appropriate provision of care for osteoporosis to those with fragility fractures and to eliminate barriers for women to receive osteoporosis treatment. Vanderbilt’s proposal to conduct research into the provision of care for osteoporosis will have a direct effect on the health outcomes of postmenopausal women.

“Vanderbilt University Medical Center is pleased to be a recipient of this residual settlement which will be used for research to improve the health and well-being of post-menopausal women. These funds will be used initially in the area of osteoporosis research, allowing Vanderbilt to positively impact the lives of women across the country,” said John Howser, director, Office of News & Communications, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Meharry Medical College, Center for Women’s Health Research, Nashville, Tennessee

Meharry Medical College exists to improve the health and health care of minority and underserved communities by offering excellent education and training programs in the health sciences; placing special emphasis on providing opportunities to people of color and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, regardless of race or ethnicity; delivering high quality health services; and conducting research that fosters the elimination of health disparities. The investigators at the Center for Women’s Health Research have been involved with studies evaluating low-dose hormone therapies for menopausal women and are currently conducting multiple studies examining breast health, uterine fibroid disease and the development of a microbicide to prevent the spread of HIV.

“On behalf of Meharry Medical College, we are grateful for this significant and thoughtful donation to the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) at Meharry. It will allow us to continue our important work in understanding the challenges faced by diverse women as they transition through to menopause,” said Valerie Montgomery-Rice, M.D., Executive Director, Center for Women’s Health Research.

University of California, San Francisco, Women’s Health Clinical Research Center, San Francisco, California

The Women’s Health Clinical Research Center was established in 2001 and is a major component of The National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at the University of California, San Francisco. The Research Center provides a vibrant and growing focus for clinical research activities and significantly strengthens clinical and teaching programs in women's health. The department's co-director and founder is an international expert on menopause and the risks and benefits of postmenopausal hormone therapy. Other researchers at the Research Center are exploring the ways that appropriate screening, prevention, and treatment of disease differ by sex. One special focus of investigation is how aging affects women and their quality of life.

North American Menopause Society

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is the country’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of women through an understanding of menopause. NAMS attempts to stimulate, recommend, recognize, and support research on physiologic, medical, genetic, psychosocial, ethnic, and cultural aspects of menopause and its translation into clinical practice. NAMS promotes the exchange of multidisciplinary scientific knowledge of menopause through their “Annual Scientific Meeting” and the journal Menopause.

The Hormone Foundation

The Hormone Foundation is an educational affiliate of The Endocrine Society, which focuses on hormone-related health information for the public, physicians, allied health professionals, and the media. The Hormone Foundation promotes prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions through outreach and education. The Hormone Foundation works directly with The Endocrine Society to translate science for the benefits of patients and to raise general awareness about emerging system diseases.

Menopause Alliance, New York, New York

Menopause Alliance is an independent, nonprofit, global women’s health initiative created to address the many issues that affect women as they enter midlife and beyond. Menopause Alliance acts as a catalyst to stimulate an exchange of dialogue among key stakeholders in the field of menopause by incorporating the thoughts and ideas of consumers, patients, and healthcare providers. It uses this integrated approach in an attempt to provide comprehensive, practical, and unbiased information about women’s health and total well-being.

Sojourner Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sojourner’s mission is to provide safe shelter for women and children, as well as advocacy and education for individuals and communities victimized by domestic violence. Sojourner’s work empowers battered women, promotes healthy communities and living, and seeks to eliminate domestic violence. In addition to its advocacy work, Sojourner has established Sojourner Shelter, which provides a secure and confidential emergency residence for women and children who are unsafe in their own homes due to violence and abuse.

Safe Haven Family Shelter, Nashville, Tennessee

The Safe Haven Family Shelter (SHFS) provides shelter and transitional services that empower homeless families with children to achieve lasting self-sufficiency. SHFA’s comprehensive program provides the education and support necessary for families to return into the community with stable employment and secured housing. Families receive support in the following areas: job readiness, financial literacy and application, life skills, individual/group therapy sessions for parents and children. Currently SHFA holds an 84% success rate of families graduating with secured employment and housing.

Joyce Lavery, Executive Director of Safe Haven Family Shelter, stated “This unexpected gift to Safe Haven Family Shelter could not be more timely and we are extremely grateful for this opportunity to further serve our community and its most vulnerable families – homeless families with children. The over 30% increase in family homelessness since 2009 calls us to expand our shelter to housing capacity through capital and other improvements. Our shelter, which is over twenty years old, is in great need of renovation and expansion along with our transitional and other housing options and this gift allows us to begin our campaign now.”

San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center San Francisco, California

The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center (SFCAPC) is a nonprofit agency dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the promotion of healthy families. SFCAPC has a Family Support Center that provides a number of services, including a 24-hour parent stress hotline that handles more than 14,000 calls per year, and a parent drop-in center that allows parents to look for a job, look for housing, receive counseling or crisis intervention, and other services without an appointment. More than half of the parents served by SFCAPC are single parents, and 83% are women.

About Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is a sixty-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. We are among the largest law firms in the United States that only represent plaintiffs.

A strong, principled sense of social responsibility drives us. Since our founding in 1972, we have been committed to achieving justice for investors, consumers, employees, patients, and small business owners, promoting safer products and fair competition, protecting our environment, and remedying violations of the civil rights of citizens worldwide. Described by The American Lawyer as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms,”our comprehensive and diverse practice is unique among plaintiffs' law firms.

Since 2003, The National Law Journal has selected Lieff Cabraser as one of the top plaintiffs' law firms in the nation. We are one of only two plaintiffs' law firms in the United States to receive this honor for the last eight consecutive years.

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About Gustafson Gluek

Gustafson Gluek PLLC is a Minneapolis law firm with a national practice, with emphasis in antitrust, consumer protection and class action litigation. The firm has over 80 years of experience in the areas of antitrust, consumer protection and class action litigation, as well as in the areas of intellectual property litigation involving patents, trademarks and trade dress, complex business litigation, and securities fraud litigation.

Gustafson Gluek PLLC practices before state and federal courts throughout the country and works with and opposes some of the nation’s largest companies and law firms. The firm was formed in May 2003.


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Michael W. Sobol, 415-956-1000
Gustafson Gluek PLLC
Daniel E. Gustafson, 612-333-8844


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Michael W. Sobol, 415-956-1000
Gustafson Gluek PLLC
Daniel E. Gustafson, 612-333-8844