Eight Washington area women who used the Dalkon Shield, an intrauterine contraceptive device, filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court Friday seeking $2 million each in damages--half to compensate for claimed injuries, and half to punish the manufacturer for alleged negligence.
In addition, six of the plaintiffs' husbands asked $100,000 each in compensatory damages for loss of consortium. A ninth woman and her husband, who live in East Wenatchee, Wash., sought a combined $2.1 million.
The defendant, the A.H. Robins Co. of Richmond, halted Dalkon Shield sales in the United States in mid-1974, at the request of the Food and Drug Administration, after a number of wearers of the device became pregnant and developed fatal infections.
The company calls the Dalkon Shield a "safe and effective" IUD, saying that its unique multifilament "tail string" generated no more infections than competitive devices using monofilament threads.
The complaint, filed by D.C. attorney Aaron M. Levine, alleged that all of the women "suffered injuries as a result of a chronic and low-grade inflammation and infection as a result of wearing the Dalkon Shield," and that Robins was "negligent" in "the design, testing, manufacture, marketing, sale and distribution" of the device.
The company has denied that it was negligent or that the IUD was defective.
The lawsuit is the first in the area filed for multiple plaintiffs, although over the years area lawyers have filed numerous Dalkon Shield suits on behalf of individuals. Levine said he has filed about 30 such suits in D.C. Superior Court, each of which was settled.