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COOPER COMPANIES RULED RESPONSIBLE FOR PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS ARISING FROM BREAST IMPLANTS SOLD BEFORE SALE OF BUSINESS; COMPANY TO APPEAL

COOPER COMPANIES RULED RESPONSIBLE FOR PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS ARISING FROM BREAST IMPLANTS SOLD BEFORE SALE OF BUSINESS; COMPANY TO APPEAL
 NEW YORK, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cooper Companies, Inc. (NYSE: COO) announced today that the Delaware Chancery Court has ruled that Cooper, in connection with the sale in 1988 of its plastic and reconstructive surgery business to a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ("BMS") (NYSE: BMY), assumed responsibility for product liability claims arising from breast implants sold before Dec. 14, 1988, by a former subsidiary of the company.
 BMS and its subsidiary Medical Engineering Corporation, which does business as Surgitek, brought a lawsuit in December 1991 seeking a judgment declaring that, as between BMS and Surgitek, on the one hand, and Cooper, on the other, Cooper is responsible for the costs of defense and damages arising from product liability claims and obligations relating to polyurethane foam-covered breast implants sold by Natural Y Surgical Specialties, Inc. before Dec. 14, 1988, the date on which Surgitek acquired Natural Y and another former subsidiary of Cooper, Aesthetech Corporation, from Cooper. BMS and Surgitek acknowledge that claims relating to products sold after Dec. 14, 1988, are the responsibility of Surgitek.
 In finding in favor of BMS and Surgitek, the court concluded that Cooper assumed or retained responsibility for product liability claims relating to Natural Y products sold before Dec. 14, 1988, irrespective of when the claims are brought. The court declined to grant BMS or Surgitek injunctive relief. Cooper will appeal the court's decision to the Delaware Supreme Court.
 As previously disclosed, Cooper, together with many other companies, including BMS and Surgitek, is a defendant in numerous product liability lawsuits in state and federal courts brought by or on behalf of recipients of breast implants. Cooper is currently aware of approximately 625 such lawsuits pending or threatened against or involving the company. As a result of the many uncertainties and complexities that exist concerning the breast implant lawsuits, Cooper cannot estimate with any precision the amount of its ultimate liability with respect to them. Nevertheless, it is the company's current belief that such liability is likely to be material to Cooper's overall financial condition.
 -0- 10/30/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: The principal healthcare subsidiaries of the Cooper Companies, Inc. are CooperSurgical, Inc., CooperVision, Inc., CooperVision Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Hospital Group of America, Inc./
 /CONTACT: Peter C. Harkins or Marisa A. Heine of D.F. King & Co., 212-269-5550, for the Cooper Companies/
 (COO BMY) CO: The Cooper Companies, Inc.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ST: New York IN: MTC SU:


GK-AH -- NY067 -- 7201 10/30/92 14:35 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 30, 1992
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