RICHMOND, JULY 27 -- A federal judge today accused A.H. Robins Co.'s bankruptcy counsel of trying to intimidate him into approving a plan to compensate Rorer Group Inc. if its planned $2.6 billion merger with Robins should fail.

Robins' law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, had filed a motion saying that unless Robins were allowed to pay "millions of dollars" to reimburse Rorer if the merger plan fails, Rorer would withdraw from the negotiations.

"I am not going to rule on cases on anything where somebody puts a club over my head and says either do it our way or {we} get out of the game," U.S. District Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr. told Dennis J. Drebsky, a Skadden, Arps partner.

"This is the wrong court for that," Merhige said. "I don't want Rorer to walk, that is for sure, but they can walk if that is their attitude. I am not going to rule while that sort of thing is hanging over the court."

Drebsky apologized after the judge invited him to withdraw the reimbursement motion, and recessed the hearing for five minutes so Drebsky could "consider everything you want to say."

Drebsky absolved Robins and Rorer of any responsibility for his "flat-out incorrect" warning that Rorer would abort the merger if the court did not approve the fees motion."Neither Rorer nor Robins has ever addressed" the possibility of pulling out, Drebsky said.

Merhige then said that he and Bankruptcy Judge Blackwell N. Shelley would approve "reasonable" reimbursement if the merger fails through no fault of Rorer's or if "a better deal" should arise, particularly for victims of the Dalkon Shield. The Dalkon Shield was an intrauterine contraceptive device sold by Robins in the 1970s.

Under a letter of intent signed by Robins on July 3, the two pharmaceutical companies must reach a definitive merger agreement by Friday. "We do believe we will finish negotiations... by July 31," Drebsky said.

Rorer has proposed to put $1.75 billion in trust to compensate Dalkon Shield victims, but has yet to specify how much would be in cash. Robins had proposed a trust of equal size, but would have put up only $75 million in cash.

The Robins financial reorganization plan, as it would be modified by the merger, must be filed by Aug. 21.

Payments to Dalkon Shield victims ended two years ago when Robins filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Murray Drabkin, counsel for the Dalkon Shield claimants' committee, asked Merhige if Robins would pay Rorer's expenses if a Rorer-Robins plan fails to win confirmation. The judge said it would not.

Before Merhige's reprimand, Mark C. Ellenberg, an associate of Drabkin, and Stanley K. Joynes III, who represents future Dalkon Shield claimants, accused Drebsky of trying to pressure the court, partly by waiting until two weeks until after the letter of intent was signed to file the reimbursement motion. Joynes said it was "simply not true" that Rorer had made reimbursement a condition for merging.

After a conference in chambers and a closed hearing, Merhige took under advisement a motion by the claimants' committee to end the period in which only Robins can propose a plan of reorganization.