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Dow Corning Awaits Vote on Settlement

March 16, 1999|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Tens of thousands of women who sued the main manufacturer of silicone used in breast implants have 60 days to decide whether a proposed settlement is enough to end a decade of bitter legal fighting.

Dow Corning Corp. said Monday it would spend $12 million to inform women about the $3.2-billion settlement plan and answer questions about the 265-page document.

Dow Corning has set up a call center to handle questions about the plan. The center of 200 people will answer questions in 30 languages from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. PST.

A packet explaining the deal is being mailed to claimants. It includes a ballot that has to be returned by May 14.

The settlement is the cornerstone of a $4.5-billion bankruptcy reorganization plan, which details how Dow Corning will pay off about 570,000 creditors, about 170,000 of whom are women who sued.

Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy under the weight of the breast implant suits. Among the other creditors are banks who hold Dow Corning's debt, insurance companies, doctors and hospitals.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Spector will hold hearings in June on whether the plan should be approved.

Under the proposed settlement, women who blame illnesses on Dow Corning silicone breast implants could get between $12,000 and $300,000 each. Women could also receive up to $25,000 for ruptured or leaking implants, and up to $5,000 for implant removal.

The information number for the United States and Canada is (888) 577-7526. cq Others may call collect at (718) 361-4500.

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