The Harvard Law School library recently acquired a voluminous collection of papers from the Dalkon Shield litigation, a tort case involving nearly 400,000 claims. The papers were donated last summer by the Ohio law firm Brown & Szaller, whose managing attorney, James Szaller, has been involved in the suit since 1975.
The Dalkon Shield litigation arose from allegations that the intrauterine contraceptive device, which was introduced into the American market in 1971 by A.H. Robins Co., caused pelvic inflammatory disease frequently resulting in infertility. More than 3.6 million units were sold in the United States before the device was removed from the market under government pressure in 1974. Flooded with lawsuits, A.H. Robins sought bankruptcy protection from litigation in 1985. The Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust was established in 1989, paying out nearly $3 billion by the time it closed in April 2000.
“The Dalkon Shield case represents a landmark in the history of defective product litigation,” said David Warrington, librarian for Special Collections. “The gift is an extraordinary addition to the School’s resources for the study and teaching of this area of the law.”
The Dalkon papers include trial transcripts, medical information on the shield’s effects, documents relating to the Robins bankruptcy proceedings, and depositions and testimony from expert witnesses. The collection joins a large archive of historical sources at the Law School library, among them the papers of several U.S. Supreme Court justices, letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, and documents from the Nuremberg Trials.