Thalidomide sufferer seeks compensation trial in Australian courts

Date: Oct 25, 2011

An Australian woman who was born with no arms or legs has headed a class action launched against the German company that produced the drug that caused her condition.

Lynette Rowe has applied to have her case against international pharmaceutical manufacturer Grunenthal – the same corporation that produced the thalidomide that caused her birth defects – heard in Victoria.

Rowe contests that should not have to travel to Germany for the case to be heard as all of the relevant factors in the trial are based locally.

She says that her mother took thalidomide tablets for about five weeks when she was pregnant to help counter the morning sickness she was experiencing at the time.

Rowe displays the typical traits that have come to be associated with victims of the drug – namely the teratogenic effects that cause the victims to be born with missing limbs, but also exhibits narrow ear canals, scoliosis and eye and mouth abnormalities.

This is the first time Australian thalidomide sufferers have launched a compensation case against the manufacturer – the success of which could provide millions of dollars to assist with their ongoing care.

Justice David Beach has said that he understood the need for urgency in this case – Rowe's elderly parents have looked after their daughter all her life and were worried about her future.

The delay in launching this particular claim is understood to have resulted from Rowe being unaware that her condition was probably a result of thalidomide exposure and the negligent behaviour of the defendants.

Central to the case is the allegation that both manufacturer Gruenthal and Australian distributor Distillers – now trading as Diageo – were aware of the reports that linked the drug and the obvious hazards it posed to the unborn children of pregnant mothers.

However, it is understood that there has never been a successful litigation on the harm caused directly by thalidomide in this country – victims have only been able to access payments through settlements made out of court.

Understandably, the initial steps involved in seeking compensation from a large international company can seem confusing – but an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to guide a victim through the entire process.

By using a no win no fee law firm, claimants will be able to gain an up-front assessment of their case with a minimum outlay – reducing the financial pressures associated with the initial legal proceedings.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.