Dow Chemical Co. on Wednesday was found liable for the first time for injuries alleged to have been caused by silicone breast implants made by its Dow Corning Corp. affiliate.
A Houston jury found Dow Chemical liable for 20% of the $5.2 million awarded a woman and her husband for injuries they said were due to the wife’s silicone breast implants. The panel ordered that Dow Corning, a joint venture of Dow Chemical and Corning Corp., pay 80% of the damages awarded Gladys and Robert Laas.
The verdict ended the first silicone implant trial in which the Midland, Mich.-based chemical company was a defendant. Dow Corning lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.
The jury awarded no damages to the other plaintiff, Jenny Ladner. Laas and her husband had sought $11 million; Ladner, a cardiologist, had sought $18 million. Juror Monica Rey said the panel believed there were adequate warnings available at the time she received implants in the late 1980s, a decade later than Laas.
Jurors also found no gross negligence on the part of the defendants, and defense lawyers said that made punitive damages unlikely.
State Court Judge Michael Schneider said he will review the jury’s finding on Dow Chemical’s liability and issue a ruling in about two weeks. He agreed to the review at the request of Dow Chemical lawyers, who cited inconsistencies in the verdict.
Dow Chemical, which is not a participant in a $4.3-billion worldwide settlement of implant cases, contended that it was not responsible for the actions of Dow Corning.
Dow Chemical spokesman Dan Fellner said the company will appeal the verdict if the judge accepts that it is liable.
“We firmly believe there is no legal basis for liability and that the Texas courts will ultimately support our appeals,” Fellner said. Dow Chemical lawyer Richard Josephson added that the company will not join the global settlement.
Laas, a nurse who now walks with a cane, said afterward: “I’m very relieved it’s over with. I’m very pleased that 12 people I never saw in my life could get together and decide that we’re all not crazy, that we really are sick and that these corporations should pay for what they did to us.”
Dow Chemical stock rose 62.5 cents to $66.875 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.