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The Biggest Divorce and Class Action Settlement Cases

Millions of dollars can change hands during expensive settlement cases. Two of the biggest settlement cases in history made national headlines because of the enormous amounts.

Mel Gibson Divorce

Actor Mel Gibson finalized his divorce in December 2011 after almost 30 years of marriage. His ex-wife, Robyn, 55, mother to the couple’s seven children, won half of his wealth, estimated at about $850 million. The settlement might be the largest in Hollywood history.

The couple did not have a prenuptial agreement. This gave Robyn the right to half of everything Gibson earned during their union.

Estimates place the earnings from The Passion of the Christ alone at $600 million. In addition, the actor has real estate holdings valued at more than $100 million and income of $75 million from other media productions. Gibson, 55, has moved from acting into production.

Robyn won ownership of two Malibu homes, worth approximately $22.5 million. In addition, she will receive half of all of Gibson’s future film residual checks.

Robyn swore in July 2010 that Mel was never abusive to her or their children and that he was an excellent father. The couple met in the late 1970s when Robyn was working as a dental nurse, right after Gibson starred in the film Mad Max.

Tobacco Industry Settlement

Wendell Gauthier, a Louisiana attorney, first took on the health industry in winning lawsuits worth billions of dollars. His victories in cases over a Pan American World Airways plane crash in 1982 and silicone breast implants paved the way for what would be a record-breaking settlement.

Michael Moore, the attorney general for the state of Louisiana, eventually filed the lawsuit jointly with attorney generals from other states. The discovery of historic documents hidden by tobacco companies caused cigarette manufacturers to settle for $246 billion, a record amount. Attorneys claimed the companies had concealed information on the dangers of smoking and had intentionally controlled nicotine levels in…

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