Bending the Law: The Story of the Dalkon Shield Bankruptcy

Richard B. Sobol, Author University of Chicago Press $59 (415p) ISBN 978-0-226-76752-9
In this minutely detailed, well-documented, clearly written report on complex litigation, Sobol, a Washington, D.C., attorney specializing in class-action suits, recounts how H. L. Robins Company, makers of the defective Dalkon Shield IUD, responded to legal actions brought because of the product, The limiting of individual and corporate liability was achieved, but at the expense of some 200,000 women who claimed that during the early 1970s use of the defective contraceptive and Robins's delay in recalling it caused sometimes fatal uterine infections and infertility. The mounting number of cases forced Robins to file for bankruptcy in 1985 in a Richmond, Va. federal court, where Judge Robert Merhige transferred all pending claims to his jurisdiction and named himself to adjudicate the reorganization and regulation of a claimants' compensation trust fund. The author faults the judge's handling of the case, which, he argues, set an unfair precedent whereby makers of dangerous products may use bankruptcy to evade penalties and deprive victims of awards determined by jury. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/18/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 415 pages - 978-0-226-76753-6
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