ATLANTA — About 65 former users of a birth control device called the Dalkon Shield, who are now suing its manufacturer, Monday announced that they were contesting A. H. Robins' application for bankruptcy protection.
"The company is financially viable and, therefore, not entitled to a debt restructuring to satisfy Dalkon Shield claimants," the IUD Litigation Group said in a statement.
A. H. Robins, besieged by health claims from Dalkon Shield users, last Wednesday filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Robins established a $615-million fund last April to pay claims for women who suffered health problems including pelvic infections, sterility, spontaneous abortions and even death, but conceded that it was evident that the fund was inadequate to meet claims and legal expenses.
The litigants' group said it intended to file a legal petition on behalf of all claimants in the Southeastern United States objecting to having their claims settled by a bankruptcy court.
The group also alleged that A. H. Robins committed fraud and abuse in court proceedings, including perjury and destruction of evidence.
In their statement, the litigants said that "a company is not given the right to protection from creditors if it can be shown that the business committed substantial acts of dishonesty and fraud in the marketing and sale of products."
The Dalkon Shield was removed from the market in 1974. But as recently as last fall, Robins was urging women still using the device to have it removed and offered to pay the medical costs.
Between 1971 and 1974, when the product was removed from sale, it is estimated that 2.8 million of the intrauterine birth control devices were sold in the United States and close to 2 million abroad.
As of June 30, Robins said it had paid $378.3 million to settle more than 9,000 legal cases and 5,100 cases were still pending. Legal expenses added another $107.3 million to Robins' expenses.