Bankruptcy judge approves breast implant settlement
November 30, 1999
From CNN's Ed Garsten
BAY CITY, Michigan (CNN) -- A federal bankruptcy judge approved a plan Tuesday which could provide payments to 170,000 women who sued Dow Corning Corp. because of health problems related to silicone breast implants.
The settlement provides $3.2 billion to settle the claims by those women. It also provides another $1.3 billion to settle claims by creditors and health care organizations.
Under the plan approved by Judge Arthur Spector, women with severe autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, could receive up to $250,000. However, most of the payments will range from $12,000 to $60,000.
The plan also calls for Dow Corning to pay $5,000 to women who wished to have their implants removed, and up to $25,000 to women whose implants have ruptured.
In his decision, Judge Spector also severed Dow Chemical Corp. and the Corning Corp. from the lawsuits, making it impossible for the owners of Dow Corning to be sued.
And Spector denied a claim by a group of 50 women from Nevada which said the plan was unfair because it denied them the right to sue Dow Corning's parent companies.
Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy protection in 1995 after a tide of breast-implant related suits were filed against it.
The company agreed to the settlement even though it continues to contend that silicone breast implants have not been found to cause autoimmune disorders and other diseases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered breast implants off the market in 1992, but the implants have remained available in other countries.
A lawyer for Dow Corning, Barbara Howser, said the company was "pleased" with Spector's decision and felt the company would emerge in "viable shape."
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Kenneth Eckstein, told CNN that he, too, was pleased with the judge's decision. He said the overwhelming support of the plan by plaintiffs gave him hope that the litigation could end soon.
Eckstein said he hoped payments could begin sometime in the year 2000.
The plan must still be signed by a federal district judge before a date can be set for it to go into effect. The judge's signing could be delayed by appeals.
Dow says breast implant offer is a fair deal
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