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A.H. Robins Co. v. Piccinin

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
788 F.2d 994 (4th Cir. 1986)


In the 1970s and early 1980s, A.H. Robins Co. (Robins) (plaintiff) was subjected to thousands of lawsuits alleging injury from its Dalkon Shield intrauterine contraceptive devices. In August 1985, Robins filed a petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. By that point, Robins and its insurer, Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. (Aetna), had paid out more than $517 million in judgments and settlements, with additional suits and claims still pending. More than half of the pending actions were against Robins as the sole defendant; these were automatically stayed by the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The remaining suits included one or more codefendants who were not bankrupt, including two Robins family members, two doctors associated with the Dalkon Shield device, and Aetna. The plaintiffs in a number of these suits moved to sever their actions against Robins in order to proceed against the codefendants. In response, Robins filed an action against Piccinin and other plaintiffs in eight such suits (defendants). Robins sought (1) a declaration that its Aetna products liability policy was property of the bankruptcy estate and (2) injunctive relief staying actions against Robins’ codefendants. The district court ruled in favor of Robins on both counts. Piccinin and the other defendants appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Russell, J.)

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