Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Will the last of the Dow Corning breast implant plaintiffs please turn out the light!

The Star (UK) reports (here) on a plaintiff from the 1980's class action lawsuit against Dow-Corning involving silicone breast implants who finally received her share of the remaining settlement for a grand total of £207 ($304.50 USD at today's exchange rate).

It's hard to believe that elements of the 2nd or 3rd biggest "whale" of American class action lawsuits are still in existence. I call it 2nd or 3rd because asbestos and tobacco suits have dwarfed it now in overall compensation (Don't even get me started on the claims that smokers had no idea they could get addicted to cigarettes or get lung cancer!). The shenanigans of the trial bar in our country cultivating these proceedings does not reflect well on our legal system.

The person in the Star article had what sounds like subcutaneous mastectomies for painful breast cysts and reconstruction with silicone implants. She's attributed multiple and diffuse symptoms to the fact she had silicone breast implants in. (Keep in mind, large databases of women around the world with implants have failed to demonstrate an increase in any common rheumatologic symptom.)

She was among thousands of women from the USA and Europe who took action against the company claiming their health had been damaged after their silicone breast implants leaked or caused immune system reactions.

Now more than a decade of waiting the cases have finally been settled.

"It is an insult, they might as well have given us nothing at all," said Shirley. Women were originally expected to received thousands of pounds in compensation when the action was first launched. But Dow Corning, which did not admit liability in the legal case, went into bankruptcy and the amount of compensation available fell.

Well, if you believe the overwhelming world scientific consensus (see here) that has shown no linkage of any identifiable disease to breast implants , you might make the argument she received £207 too much. What's most striking is to consider how much the handful of class action plaintiff's lawyers literally stole from investors of Dow Corning (hundreds of millions of dollars) and how little claimants received some 20 years later.


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