A Texas state judge Tuesday overturned a landmark jury verdict that had found Dow Chemical Co. liable for injuries allegedly caused by silicone breast implants made by its Dow Corning Corp. affiliate.
The jury verdict marked the first time Dow Chemical had been found liable in a breast implant case.
Last month, the jury found that Dow Corning and its 50% shareholder Dow Chemical were responsible for injuries to Gladys Laas, and it awarded Laas and her husband $5.2 million.
Jurors found the Midland, Mich.-based chemical maker liable for 20% of the damages it awarded Laas, with Dow Corning liable for the rest.
Dow Corning is a joint venture set up by Dow Chemical and Corning, N.Y.-based Corning Inc., a maker of consumer products and specialty materials. The venture no longer produces silicone breast implants. The trial was seen as a crucial ruling on the responsibility of parent companies for the actions of joint venture subsidiaries they do not directly manage.
In post-trial motions, Dow Chemical asked State District Judge Michael Schneider to reconsider the verdict, noting a lack of evidence to support the view that it shared blame for the injuries, as well as inconsistencies in the verdict.
On Tuesday, Schneider overturned the jury's finding that Dow was responsible for injuries to Laas, specifically that it "gave substantial encouragement or assistance to Dow Corning" in marketing implants "that had not first been adequately tested."
The judge upheld the verdict against Dow Corning and found it liable for the entire $5.2-million damage award. He also upheld the jury's refusal to award damages to a second plaintiff, El Paso cardiologist Jenny Ladner.
Laas, a registered nurse, had alleged that the autoimmune condition and other physical problems she suffered stemmed from leaking implants inserted in 1977. Ladner suffered from lupus and related disorders.
Dow Corning spokesman T. Michael Jackson said the company will appeal the verdict in the Laas case.