Transcript - Breast Implants - Channel 2 News - May 15, 1995

Silicone Gel Breast Implant Litigation
Dow Corning Bankruptcy
Channel 2 News
May 15, 1995
4:00 P.M.

04:02 - 08:14

Lester Holt: Hello everybody I'm Lester Holt.

Mary Ann Childers: And I'm Mary Ann Childers. Topping Chicago's news today at four, it was once the nation's leading maker of silicone breast implants, now Dow Corning is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move comes in the wake a nearly two hundred lawsuits filed by women who say they were injured by the implants. Elizabeth Calavan has more on today's development.

Elizabeth Calavan: It's not that Dow Corning has run out of money, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the corporation, once one of the leading manufactures of silicone breast implants faces so many lawsuits because of the implants, it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Richard Hazelton: We needed to use this action to allow us preventively while our business is still healthy to keep that healthy so that we can keep our operations going but also so that we can meet our obligations to the global settlement and a fair resolution for everyone.

E. Calavan: The Global settlement Hazelton mentioned, has Dow Corning paying $2 billion into a $4.2 billion fund to compensate women who have been harmed by the implants. The settlement was decided last year. But bankruptcy protection will give Dow Corning time to delay its payments. Time thousands of women don't have.

Robert Gordon (Plaintiff's attorney): Its not good news, its bad news for women who have been waiting.

E. Calavan: In New York City, attorney Robert Gordon represents 5000 women who have sued the manufactures of breast implants saying they've caused a long list of medical problems including lupus and hardening of the breast. A majority of those women were waiting for the reward from the Global settlement.

R. Gordon: Women are frightened, they were led to believe that Dow Corning was going to own up to their responsibility to compensate them for their injuries. They've been waiting, in order to have these medical procedures like removal of their implants and seeing doctors for the money from these manufactures. They don't know where to turn now.

E. Calavan: One place they will be able to turn now is Dow Corning's parent company, Dow Chemical, which may wind up taking responsibility as Dow Corning seeks protection in bankruptcy court. But even then the first time anyone sees any money from the settlement could be at least 2-3 years from now. Elizabeth Calavan, CBS news, New York.

M. Childers: Dow Corning by the way no longer makes silicone breast implants and despite the hundreds of lawsuits filed against it, company officials insist that these devices are safe.

L. Holt: We want to explore now the question of what happens to those lawsuits already filed against the company.

M. Childers: Chicago attorney Kenneth Moll who represents several victims, I should say hundreds actually around the world, joins us now, what about the women who are part of this giant class.

Kenneth B. Moll: Well, you know, the women who are part of the class are basically protected, we believe. What Dow Corning is saying in their strategy is saying we can't quite possibly give $2.1 billion to the class action and then be expected to pay the . . . defend the lawsuits, individual lawsuits brought against them and survive as a company.

L. Holt: And there are quite a few of these individual lawsuits, right, that have not been judged yet

K. Moll: That's correct, there are hundreds filed individually, there's thousands in the global settlement

L. Holt: And do those people have a shot of seeing their money?

K. Moll: The chances are less now. Dow Corning is basically saying, 'judge, this is all the money we have, we can't quite possibly pay the class action and individual lawsuits.'

M. Childers: Do you view this as some kind of a dodge?

K. Moll: It's a strategy, we believe, on the part of Dow Corning to make it a mandatory class action not giving the women the individual right to file lawsuits against them.

L. Holt: Which would mean that they would have a finite amount of money they know they have to dole out.

K. Moll: Absolutely, what they're saying is, take part of the class action, get between $200,000 to $2 million but that's it, that's all we can give.

M. Childers: Now for women who didn't opt into the class, they don't have an option at this point do they? Did the deadline pass for that?

K. Moll: Well, there's still going to be unsecured creditors under the bankruptcy, but Dow Corning is basically saying this is all the money we have whether you're in the class or not, we just want to pay a finite amount of dollars for each claim.

L. Holt: All right, Kenneth Moll thank you for joining us and helping clear some of these questions up. If you have more questions about the class action lawsuit or your individual lawsuit against Dow Corning you can call the company directly area code 517.496.4000 or 1. 800.524.1287 or you can certainly, obviously want to contact your own attorney.

personal piece of information. I've been there too eventually you're gonna have problems, please read the inserts, please get the books, please get informed. Thank you all very, very much.