Dow Corning advertises for plaintiffs Jan. 15 is last date to present claims over silicone gel

September 06, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Dow Corning Corp. today will begin an $8 million advertising campaign alerting customers of their last chance to file injury claims against the company.

The 50-50 joint venture of Dow Chemical Inc. and Corning Inc., facing more than 19,000 claims that its silicone-gel breast implants caused injury or disease in women, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 1995.

Now the company is trying to make hundreds of thousands of potential plaintiffs aware of a Jan. 15, 1997, deadline for all U.S. claims and a Feb. 14, 1997, deadline for claims outside of the U.S.

"It's now or never," said Sybil Goldrich, a member of Dow Corning's Tort Claimant Committee, appointed to represent the rights of potential plaintiffs against the company.

Filing a claim doesn't mean a claimant will automatically receive a settlement.

Dow Corning hasn't reached any settlement with breast-implant plaintiffs' lawyers, company officials said.

Every person who believes he or she may have had any kind of Dow Corning implant -- including implants in such places as the jaw, knee, or penis -- must fill out a form notifying the company they could be a potential claimant, the company said.

"Filing a claim is the first step in this process," said Dow Corning Vice President Barie Carmichael. "Evaluating the claims and resolving disputes over the validity or amount of the claims will come later in the bankruptcy."

Even people who have previously filed a legal claim against Dow Corning must refile using the notification form, she said.

Though company officials said they couldn't predict how many DTC people would be affected, they plan to mail forms to about 900,000 potential claimants they know of and hope to reach others with the advertising campaign.

The $8 million advertising campaign will include radio, TV, and print ads over 70 days, Carmichael said.

The company expects its ads to reach 95 percent of all U.S. adults an average of five times.

The ads won't blanket foreign countries quite as much, but the campaign will run worldwide, she said.

"We have taken considerable measure to ensure that we are reaching the widest possible range of potential claimants," Carmichael said.

The company filed for bankruptcy after a $4.2 billion settlement offer made by Dow Corning and other implant manufacturers to women with breast implants was judged too small.

At the time, about 480,000 women sought to participate in the settlement, Goldrich said today.

Shares of Dow Chemical fell 75 cents to close at $78.625 yesterday. Corning shares were unchanged at $36.625.

Potential claimants should call Dow Corning at 1-800-997-1700 or 1-800-651-7030.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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