The High Court has adjourned, for further case management, 26 personal injury compensation claims in relation to the use of the drug Thalidomide until November 7.
Teh legal actions are being brought against the producers of the drug, German firm Grunenthal GmbH, the Irish distributors, TP Whelehan Son & Co, and also the Ministers for Health and Environment.
The claimed wrongdoing, the High Court was told, dates back to the 1960s. Thalidomide was launched in Germany in 1957 as a sedative and is alleged to have inflicted deformities on unborn children when it was prescribed to their pregnant mothers. The defendants in the case deny all the claims that the plaintiffs submitted.
The adjournment was issue as it is yet to be determined is whether the cases are statute barred . To date the actions have been case managed on their way to trial over the course of the last few years.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, in hearing the cases on Wednesday, stated that he is unhappy with “the slow pace” of the proceedings. However, Justice Noonan did rule that certain information reagrding particulars of the claims must be provided by the plaintiff to legal counsel for the defendents prior to the November 7 hearing. This is information that the defendants claims they required in order to address the claim being made against them. He added that the plaintiffs had a right to request to discover documents from the State as part of the compensation claims that they are taking.
John Stack, chairman of Thalidomide Ireland, which supports the claims, said the group was pleased to learn that the plaintiffs had a right to discover State documents as part of their case.
He said “Unfortunately, two of our members have not survived to conclude their court actions against the Irish State. Our members are ageing, becoming more decrepit and suffering the adverse effects of their physical deterioration. Our litigation has been the mother of all battles over decades and Thalidomide victims have to keep themselves alive to get justice for both their families and themselves.
“That is fundamentally wrong and shows that the State’s moral compass in respect of catastrophic injury litigation is incorrectly set for the purpose of minimisation of costs rather than doing the correct thing by its injured citizens”.