In a major courtroom setback for one of the nation's largest chemical producers, a state jury in Louisiana found yesterday that the Dow Chemical Company had knowingly deceived women by hiding information about the health risks of silicone used in breast implants.
The New Orleans jury, which is hearing the first class-action lawsuit brought against a company involved in the breast implant industry, also found that Dow Chemical had failed to test silicone adequately before it was used in the human body.
Yesterday's decision ended the first part of a case that potentially involves the claims of 1,800 women who received breast implants. In the trial's second phase, expected to start in late September, the same jury will determine whether eight women, who are representative of the women in the class action, were injured by the devices. It will also decide what compensation, if any, they should receive.
In 1993, almost 9,000 individuals filed law suits against Dow Corning claiming medical injury from their implants. By May 1995, the company faced more than 20,000 individual suits. In addition, since early 1992, Dow Corning had faced a class action law suit brought by more than 100,000 claimants that hoped to compensate those injured by the implants more quickly. Dow Corning saw the number of claimants in this suit rise above 400,000. Dow Corning filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This means the company saw its assets could not cover the liabilities it expected from the suit. The bankruptcy proceedings halted the litigation; it did not stop Dow Corning from continuing its other business activities.
Silcone is Toxic
In 1954 an in-house study by Dow Corning, a prime implant manufacturer, found that the silica in silicone has quite a high order of toxicity,according to recently released documentation of that previously suppressed study. In 1956, silicone fluid injected into laboratory dogs migrated to all the major organs; and in 1961, the year the first implants were released, Their own internal medical research department reported that silicone leaking from implants is equivalent in toxic effect to direct injections of silicone into the body.
The health hazards associated with the silicone implants came to light gradually, over years. The defining moment was a June 1991 story in Business Week magazine (dated June 10, 1991). This was the first article that alleged that Dow Corning concealed documents about the product’s safety.
The article alleged that silicone breast implants could deteriorate and leak, wreaking havoc upon a woman’s immune system. The company had long maintained that the implants it manufactured through Dow Corning Wright, its subsidiary company, would last a woman’s lifetime. At the time of the article, approximately 1.5 million to 2 million women had had silicone breast implants. It was the third largest form of cosmetic surgery after nose and liposuction operations. Nevertheless, Business Week charged that the industry had known for a decade of animal studies that linked implants to cancer and other illnesses.
The Dow Corning Breast Implant Litigation Today
The Revised Settlement Program (RSP) permanently closed on 12/15/10, therefore as of that date, the Claims Office has not been accepting any new claims. However, new disease claims that were received by the Claims Office by the deadline, will be reviewed and if found deficient, those claimants will receive a notification letter and will have one year from the date on their letters to try to cure the deficiencies.
The Settlement Facility for the Dow Corning Trust (SF-DCT) is current in processing class 5 claims for disease and explant benefits. Reviews of Class 7 disease claims, however, are not all completed yet. Class 7 claims found to be deficient will have one year from the date of their notification letters to try to cure the deficiencies. Therefore, the SF-DCT is not expecting to be able to make payments to class 7 approved claims for another 1-2 years.
Dow Corning Today. Sales and profits for fourth quarter and 2011 year end
Dow Corning Corp. today announced its results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2011. Dow Corning recorded record sales of $6.43 billion in 2011 while adjusted net income decreased 15 percent compared to 2010. Adjusted net income excluded a gain on long-term sales agreements. Fourth quarter sales decreased 4 percent compared to fourth quarter 2010 as prices softened in the face of global economic volatility. Additional information about Dow Corning’s financial results:
Fourth Quarter Results
Sales were $1.52 billion, 4 percent lower than last year’s fourth quarter.
While demand was reasonably stable, prices softened across most geographic regions.
Net income was $260 million, 3 percent higher than last year’s fourth quarter.
Adjusted net income was $76.8 million, 53 percent lower than last year’s fourth quarter.
Sales were $6.43 billion, 7 percent higher than last year.
Significant areas of growth included Asia, Eastern Europe and developing geographic regions.
Net income was $806 million, 7 percent lower than last year.
Adjusted net income was $613 million, 15 percent lower than last year