A $70-million lawsuit filed on behalf of 99 men and women charges that the directors and officers of A. H. Robins Co. failed to warn the public of the dangers of its Dalkon Shield birth-control product.
Atlanta lawyer Guerry Thornton Jr., who filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court, could not be reached for comment.
But A. H. Robins, which filed for protection from its creditors in August under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code after being besieged by health claims, said it believes that the lawsuit was filed to get around a court order that temporarily suspended litigation against Robins involving the Dalkon Shield.
Robins withdrew the product from the market in 1974 because of an increasing number of allegations of medical problems linked to its use. The Richmond, Va.-based company and its insurer already have paid $368.5 million to resolve 8,725 claims. There are still thousands of unresolved claims.
“Most of the suits have been directed against the company,” Robins spokesman Roscoe E. Puckett Jr said. However, Puckett added, “some (suits) have named, as co-defendants, officers and directors in an effort to circumvent the stay (on lawsuits) that became effective when we filed for reorganization under Chapter 11.”
Puckett said that, in anticipation of legal challenges similar to the Atlanta case, Robins’ lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Robert R. Merhige to extend the court stay to include co-defendants such as officers and directors.