DOW CORNING REACHES 10 IMPLANT SETTLEMENTS

DOW CORNING REACHES 10 IMPLANT SETTLEMENTS

Dow Corning Corp. has reached tentative settlements with 10 more insurance carriers for about $318 million in a dispute over paying for silicone breast implant litigation.

The settlement must be approved by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge in Bay City, Mich. The court will rule on the settlements at a hearing Oct. 19, Barb Muessig, a company spokeswoman, said Wednesday.Dow Corning, a joint venture between Dow Chemical Co. and Corning Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection May 15. The company is still working to reach settlements with "between 50 and 100" more of its insurance companies, Ms. Muessig said.

The federal bankruptcy court in September approved Dow Corning's settlements with its three largest insurers, Hartford Insurance ($107.5 million), Royal Insurance (up to $7 million) and Aetna (up to$214 million).

"There are some other settlements that are close, so we're expecting the list to get longer," Ms. Muessig said.

The largest of the 10 settlements involving Dow Corning, based in Midland, Mich., includes a $233 million settlement with syndicates at Lloyd's of London and London-based commercial underwriters.

The others include North River Insurance Co., a unit of Xerox Corp., $36.4 million; Transamerica Corp., $24.7 million; Federal Insurance Co., a unit of Chubb Corp., $13.9 million; American Guarantee, $4 million; Zurich Group, $3.8 million; Ludgate Insurance Co., $1 million; National Casualty Co., $713,000; Arab Insurance Co., $500,000 and Algemene, $11,250.

Meanwhile, in the Texas Supreme Court, justices heard arguments on whether state court lawsuits over the silicon breast implants made by Dow Chemical can continue.

Lawyers for Dow Chemical argued that the lawsuits should be stopped

because they no longer include Dow Corning Corp., which made the implants and has filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court.

When Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy protection, the action delayed all litigation against the joint venture until its financial reorganization is completed.

State district courts severed Dow Corning from two South Texas lawsuits after the bankruptcy filing, but allowed the litigation to continue against Dow Chemical.

"It doesn't make sense to sue Dow Chemical, which never made or sold the implants," Ms. Muessig said. "It is strictly one of our company's two parents. Its defense is going to rebound onto Dow Corning anyway and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy was set up to provide that breathing space from litigation."

But San Antonio lawyer Luther Soules III, representing women who sued, accused the company of manipulating the legal system.

"Dow Chemical deliberately placed its subsidiary into bankruptcy, believing it had a long shot to escape its own liability and responsibility," he said.

Mr. Soules told the Supreme Court that the company's argument would deny his clients' 14th Amendment right to due process.