library acquires major research collections
Law Library is adding two acquisitions to its holdings that
document legal history of recent times. Judge John Butzner, a
circuit court judge who oversaw federal appointments of independent
counsel for about 25 investigations, including those of Oliver
L. North and the Whitewater case, has donated his papers to his
alma mater (he graduated in 1941); the other collection comprises
the material from one of the most successful class-action law
suits against A.H. Robins Co. for its contraceptive device
known as the Dalkon Shield.
the 1990s, the Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust paid out nearly $3
billion to more than 200,000 women who had used the intrauterine
contraceptive device, making it one of the most successful settlements
for claimants of mass tort litigation.
recovery by so many, in such large amounts, has been accomplished
with so little expended in administrative costs, said George
Rutherglen, a U.Va. Law professor who was an attorney for the
trust in litigation to reduce attorneys fees.
With court approval, the U.Va. law library received the papers
of the Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust a year ago at the direction
of the trustees on closing the trust. Since then, the law library
staff has been cataloguing the voluminous collection and making
materials accessible, which should take a year.
trust, which closed its Richmond-based operation in April 2000,
was established in 1989 to settle the claims of women who maintained
they had been injured by the Dalkon Shield, the intrauterine contraceptive
device (IUD) sold by Richmond-based A.H. Robins Co. from 1971
the peak of its operations, the trust had a staff of almost 400,
which in 10 years handled more than 400,000 claims. Through
careful management of the funds, the trust paid out almost $3
billion, making it the first mass personal injury trust to
close after successfully paying all valid claims, Rutherglen said.
collection is a gold mine for researchers. It holds tremendous
value not only for legal historians, but also for trusts handling
mass tort claims, and researchers in the health sciences and the
pharmaceutical industry, said Marsha Trimble, curator of
special collections at the law library. There are books
still waiting to be written on medical history and trust administration,
using these materials.
The collection includes such primary materials as videotapes of
Robins employees court testimony, microfilm of thousands
of documents produced as evidence during the litigation, administrative
records of the trust, and a statistical abstract of the claims
and how the claims were resolved. There is also a complete collection
of pleadings in the bankruptcy case and the reorganization plan
approved in the bankruptcy under which the trust was established.
trust was created by a court-brokered agreement after Robins filed
for protection from creditors under the federal bankruptcy code.
John D. Butzner Jr. papers
other collection recently received by the U.Va. Law Library are
the papers of Judge John D. Butzner Jr. relating to the judicial
appointment and oversight of federally appointed independent counsel.
sitting for 25 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit, Butzner was asked by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
in 1987 to become a member of the special division of the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the
purpose of appointing independent counsel.
served from 1988 to 1998 on the U.S. Court of Appeals panel in
Washington, D.C., that supervised federally appointed independent
counsel. During his tenure, the panel oversaw about 25 investigations,
including the so-called Iran-gate case of Oliver L.
North, along with those of Henry Cisneros, Mike Espy, and the
Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association, better known as
Butzner, who was keenly aware of the criticism the oversight panel
received during his years of service, wanted his papers preserved
as part of the historical record and donated them to the law library
to encourage informed public review of the panels work,
significant research collection consists of extensive correspondence
between judges reflecting the workings of the panel, their method
of selecting independent counsel, various revisions of the Ethics
in Government Act of 1978, and the high costs of the investigations.
Butzner, a 1941 graduate of U.Va.s Law
School, donated these papers a year ago. They have been fully
catalogued and are open to the public between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,
Mondays through Fridays.