Calling the A.H. Robins Co.'s conduct "fraudulent and dangerous to its customers," a Denver judge yesterday refused to reduce a $6.8 million judgement awarded a woman who nearly died after using the Dalkon Shield.
Last July, a jury watched Carie M. Palmer the amount as punitive damages after a two-month trial -- the largest single award from scores of suits tied over the last five years by women who claimed they suffered septic abortions or other serious complications from using the shield, an intrauterine birth-control device.
Denver District Court Judge Robert Fullerton also denied the company's motion for a new trial.
"We remain of the opinion that the Dalkon Shield was not the cause of the plaintiff's problems," Roscoe Puckett, Robbins' manager of public information, said by telephone from Richmond, Va. "Obviously, the decision will be appealed."
Palmer had the shield inserted in 1973. She later became pregnant and suffered an almost fatal septic abortion.
Fullerton said that Robbins' marketing of the shield "was characterized by a conscious decision . . . to market an inadequately tested, dangerous product by unethical and improper means, using false and misleading advertising."
"The evidence showed that once the company was made specifically aware of the numerous dangerous side effects of the device . . . it suppressed the information, made additional false claims and then resorted to an effort to cover up the facts."