Law Library Acquires Two Major Research Collections
Papers Promise To Be A Goldmine For Law, Health Researchers; Judge
Butzner Papers Reveal Inner Workings Of Independent Counsel Office
On Whitewater, Iran-Gate
25, 2001-- During 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 law professor at the University of Virginia who was
an attorney for the trust in litigation to reduce attorneys' fees.
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 working to organize and catalog the voluminous collection.
The papers will be fully opened to the public when the cataloguing
is completed next year. Some materials may be accessible before
trust, which closed its Richmond-based operation in April 2000,
was established in 1989 to settle the claims of women who claimed
they had been injured by the Dalkon Shield, the intrauterine contraceptive
device (IUD) sold by Richmond-based A.H. Robins Co. from 1971 to
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 U.Va. Law Library. "There are books still waiting to
be written on medical history and trust administration, using these
of the most remarkable things about the Dalkon Shield collection
is that it is so extensive," Trimble said. "Researchers
can follow the history of the IUD from the time it was created by
a group of researchers in the late 1960s, through its development
by Robins, and the subsequent litigation, bankruptcy, establishment
of the trusts and resolution of more than 400,000 claims from injured
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.
Robins filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the
federal bankruptcy code, U.S. District Judge Robert R. Merhige and
Bankruptcy Judge Blackwell N. Shelley brokered an agreement under
which American Home Products acquired the Robins Co. in exchange
for placing about $2.3 billion into a trust for the claimants. Under
the reorganization plan and a class-action settlement, also approved
by the court, three trusts were created to resolve the claims of
Dalkon Shield users, their familes and third parties.
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.
other two trusts had similarly successful records and closed in
1997 and 1998. The library holds the papers of all three funds.
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 Whitewater.
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 panel's work," Trimble
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.
Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858