I picked up the mail that morning and quickly scanned it to see if there was anything of interest.
There, among the usual collection of credit-card offers, new car deals and real estate flyers, was an intriguing envelope.
The return address on the official-looking piece read "Subpoena Antitrust Litigation Settlement Fund."
I had no idea how my name had been included on some attorney's list of clients. But it became a bit clearer when I opened the envelope. The letter enclosed began, "Dear Consumer of Relafen..."
I vaguely recalled that in some long-ago period, I had taken that particular drug. But then, over my lifetime, I've taken so many, I had all but forgotten Relafen.
In bold letters under the opening was the announcement, "This letter includes a check from a Court approved settlement. Please read this letter carefully."
Now I was becoming more and more convinced this wasn't junk mail.
But, before going straight to the end for the promised check, I decided to slow down and read the information detailing why I was chosen to receive this windfall, whatever it might be.
My mind was racing with questions. Yes, I vaguely recall taking the medicine the letter listed, but how on earth did those bringing the lawsuit know that?
According to the letter, the resourceful law firm handling the litigation had gotten Court authorization to subpoena information from the "ten largest retail pharmacy providers and five largest mail-order pharmacies."
From that research, they were able to compile a list of folks who had taken the medication from September 1, 1993 through June 30, 2003.
Those records led them to me....as well as thousands of others.
The letter went on to assure me the lawsuit was not brought for any health problems suffered by the users of Relafen. Instead it was based on the allegation that "all persons who paid for a prescription of the brand-name drug (or its generic version) during the period, paid too much." The suit stated the defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws... "for unjust enrichment."
Even though I'd never heard a whisper of this high-level legal battle and had never applied to be a part of it, I had been included by virtue of my history of taking the medication.
After reading the document thoroughly, I decided the settlement actually was in the best interest of all us little folks out here in "pill-popping land."
I was especially encouraged by the statement that read "the settlement provides $75 million to those who purchased Relafen or its generic equivalent for use during the Class Period. Individual consumers will share $25 million of the settlement."
With this as the introduction, I turned to the check, hidden in the final pages of the long letter. I could hardly wait to see what eye-popping amount was my part of this lawsuit lottery.
Finally, I could almost feel the wind in my hair as I imagined my long-awaited ship approaching the dock.
But apparently, windfalls come in many sizes.
My official check from the Antitrust Litigation Settlement Fund was a whopping $12.26.
When my ship finally came in, it turned out to be just another leaky little rowboat.