Sixteen people are suing for injuries arising out of the prescribing of the drug Thalidomide to their mothers during pregnancy in the 1950s/60s, the High Court has heard, writes Ann O’Loughlin.
The cases, which started in 2013, arose out of new information and technological advances which enabled people who suffered disabilities or deformities as a result of their mothers taking the drug to bring the actions, the court heard.
However, the German manufacturers of the drug, the Irish distributors and the State, who are all being sued, claim the cases are barred from proceeding as a result of the statute of limitations. This places a time limit of generally between two and six years depending on the type of case and the time of a person’s knowledge of an alleged wrong.
Manufacturers Grunenthal GmbH, distributors TP Whelehan Son & Co, and the Ministers for Health and Environment all deny the claims.
Grunenthal applied to Mr Justice Seamus Noonan for directions over whether the issue of the cases being statute-barred should be determined first. It also sought a determination as to whether the proceedings against the German company should be dismissed for want of prosecution and/or because of inordinate and inexcusable delay.
Lawyers for one of the 16, whose case is being dealt with first, also applied for directions on how the case should proceed.
Mr Justice Noonan is to give his decision on the matter tomorrow.
The court heard the plaintiffs are in their 50s and some may require urgent hearings because of their medical conditions.