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When lawyers for users of the diet drug fen-phen agreed to settle a federal class-action suit against the manufacturer last month, it looked as if the resolution was going to leave most parties satisfied. People who used the drug before it was pulled off the market on suspicion of causing heart malfunctions would be eligible for a free round of diagnostic tests and possible payment of up to almost $1.5 million. American Home Products’ stock price shot up once the threat of suits had been diffused, even though the settlement could cost the drug manufacturer up to $4.85 billion, including $449 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

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