A women's group asked a federal court today to dismiss A. H. Robins Co.'s petition for bankruptcy, maintaining the big drug company is seeking to dodge lawsuits by women injured by the firm's Dalkon Shield birth-control device.
The National Women's Health Network filed its motion in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., saying the pharmaceutical company's petition to reorganize under bankruptcy laws is an unjustified tactic to duck corporate responsibility.
"We hope to persuade the court that bankruptcy laws are meant to allow insolvent people and companies a fresh start, not shield financially healthy companies like Robins from legitimate claims by victims of their defective products," said Aaron Levine, an attorney representing the women's group.
Levine had said he planned to file the motion Thursday, but instead it was actually entered with the court early today. It was filed on behalf of the women's group as well as 88 women he represents who have suits against Robins.
Could Cause Lengthy Delays
Levine said he asked the court for a September hearing.
Robins, based in Richmond, filed its petition Wednesday. Bankruptcy protection would delay for up to several years about 5,100 suits against it that seek tens of millions of dollars in damages.
The 119-year-old pharmaceutical giant sold the Dalkon Shield to about 2.8 million women from 1970 to 1974, when it withdrew the device from the U.S. market. It stopped overseas distribution the following year.
U.S. sales have resulted in more than 14,300 lawsuits by women who claim to have suffered pelvic infections, sterility and involuntary abortion.
In a statement Wednesday, Robins said it is financially healthy but filed for protection because of "the continuing burden of litigation related to the Dalkon Shield."
As of this spring, the company and its insurer had paid about $387.3 million for 9,230 cases, plus legal expenses totaling $107.3 million.