Settlements of €4.5m in three swine flu cases approved

The cases involve two under-18 year olds and an adult man and it was claimed in all three cases that the plaintiffs developed narcolepsy
Settlements of €4.5m in three swine flu cases approved

The cases were against the Minister for Health, the HSE, and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA (GSK) – the producer of swine flu vaccine Pandemrix. File picture: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Settlements totalling more than €4.5m were approved by the High Court in three cases over the administering for the swine flu jab which caused sleep disorder.

The cases involve two under-18 year olds and an adult man. Nothing can be reported to identify them by order of the court.

The cases were against the Minister for Health, the HSE, and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA (GSK) – the producer of swine flu vaccine Pandemrix.

GSK was previously given an indemnity by the State concerning any adverse reactions to the vaccine.

It was claimed in all three cases that the plaintiffs developed narcolepsy.

Groundbreaking settlement

These settlements arose out of general terms agreed in a groundbreaking settlement last year, which paved the way for the resolution of 80 cases over the Pandemrix vaccine.

In the first case, Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan approved a settlement of €1m for a teenage boy who received Pandremix when he was six and subsequently developed moderate to severe narcolepsy.

In the second case of another teenage boy, the judge approved a settlement of €1.75m after his counsel Jonathan Kilfeather SC said there was a complicating factor in this case because the child had also been diagnosed with autism which meant his life in the future would be very different.

In the third case, Ms Justice O'Regan approved a €1.8 settlement for a man in his 20s who received the vaccine in 2009. He was also diagnosed as suffering from a mental disorder when doing his Junior Certificate, which meant he required continuing support and was unlikely to get employment.

Application for wardship

His lawyers had recommended that an application for wardship be made to the president of the High Court, which would mean the settlement would be managed for his benefit.

This was because his treating doctor said his condition affected his ability to perform independently and he was a very vulnerable young man with complex medical needs.

His mother, who took the case on his behalf, told the court via remote link she and her family had concerns that if her son went into wardship that this would be a further loss of control over his life. He had a very supportive wider family and his sister was prepared to manage the settlement along with him if he was not taken into wardship, she said.

Ms Justice O'Regan said the issue of wardship would be dealt with by the court president or her appointed nominee only after a full inquiry. It would not be a snap decision and the man and his mother's feelings would be taken into account before any decision is made, she said.

The judge said she felt constrained by his doctor's views and it was in his interests that she transfer the matter to the president's list for an inquiry into the possibility of wardship.

She approved the €1.8m settlement.

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