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Implant Suit Targets Nearly 40 Defendants - Chicago Daily Law Bulletin - January 28, 1993

By: David Bailey, Law Bulletin Staff Writer
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
January 28, 1993

A massive lawsuit naming all manufacturers of breast implants and their components was filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of 58 women, their spouses and four children.

In all, the suit names 93 plaintiffs and more than three dozen defendants in a non-class action aimed at conducting discovery quickly and economically, according to attorney Kenneth B. Moll.

Moll said he also plans to add 25 more women and their spouses to the complaint, filed Monday, and would like to see all the Cook County and statewide breast implant cases consolidated for discovery. The suit includes spouses for loss of consortium.

For the first time, a suit has claimed that the implants can cause adverse effects i children who have been born to or breast fed by women who had implants, Moll said.

One plaintiff in the case has three children, two of whom were born and fed while she had implants and one who was not, Moll said. Two children suffer from similar ailments, while the child born when the mother did not have implants lacks the health problems, Moll said.

"The defendants had knowledge that the component parts of their breast implants migrate through the plaintiffs' bodies and thus into the bodies of any unborn children present in their bodies," the suit contends.

In all, the suit claims the women have suffered from 28 illnesses, diseases or other adverse health conditions, including cancer. The suit names six types of breast implants, some containing silicone gel and others filled with saline materials.

The suit charges that the manufacturers were negligent, conspired to conceal problems with the implants and practiced false advertising.

"At least as early as 1975, defendants were aware that breast implants had been only minimally tested and that the silicone gel used to fill the silicone implants would leak or otherwise escape from the implant and migrate throughout the body of the recipient of the implant, causing inflammatory illnesses and other health problems and risks," the suit contends.

"Despite their knowledge, defendants continued to design, develop, manufacture, fabricate, distribute, supply, advertise, promote, and market their defective breast implants to the public without disclosing the dangers that they knew or should have known existed," the suit adds.

In addition to the other health claims, many women experienced sever hardening of the breasts, which often resulted in successive surgical procedures and disfiguring scars and deformed breasts, the suit contends.

Moll said that filing the suits together means the defendants can be deposed once, rather than 93 separate times, with the possibility that the cases can be tried individually later. A similar approach was used to move the salmonella poisoning cases through the court system, he said.

For the clients, costs are reduced and the cases are pushed through the system quicker, Moll said.

Moll is liaison counsel for the state of Illinois to the federal breast implant cases in Alabama. Although the plaintiffs in the Cook County filing technically are covered by the federal class action, they also can opt out of the class action in favor of their individual suits, Moll said.

The first silicone implants were devised by two Dow Corning researchers in 1962 when they combined the rubbery and liquid forms of silicone to create a gel that was soft, but firm and wrapped it in a silicone envelope.

The suit contends that the basic design of the implants remained the same until the Food and Drug Administration effectively banned the sale of silicone gel implants in April 1992.

Jacqueline S. Arbus, et al. v. Aesthetech Corporation, et al., No. 93 L 930.

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