find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Thalidomide class action breakthrough

Thalidomide class action breakthrough

Lawyers representing thalidomide victim Lynette Rowe yesterday (18 July) secured a multi-million dollar settlement from the drug’s distributor, with more compensation claims expected to follow.

Slater & Gordon and Gordon Legal jointly represented Rowe (pictured), a 50-year-old Victorian woman born with no arms or legs after her mother took anti-nausea medication containing thalidomide.

Slater’s Michael Magazanik conducted Rowe’s claim with Peter Gordon of Gordon Legal. Magazanik told Lawyers Weekly that the compensation payment will provide Rowe with “a high level of care for the rest of her life”.

Rowe had launched a class action against British company Diageo, which in 1997 acquired Distillers, the Australian and New Zealand distributor of the thalidomide drug. Distillers turned raw thalidomide into tablets and shipped the drug to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rowe also sued Grunenthal, the German pharmaceutical company that invented thalidomide.

Magazanik said he is “disappointed” Grunenthal did not contribute to Rowe’s settlement.

“Many of our clients would love to see Grunenthal held to account for their global actions on thalidomide ... Grunenthal never tested the drug on pregnant animals or followed up its effect in pregnant women.”

While the settlement has no precedential value in the courts, Magazanik said he is pleased Diageo has agreed to consider claims from other thalidomide survivors in Australia and New Zealand who have not yet been compensated.

“Diageo will run through a lot of cases over the next 18 months, which we will try to resolve outside the courts.”

Magazanik said gathering evidence will be the greatest challenge in pursuing new claims.

“Finding witnesses from 50 years ago, and taking their statements, is difficult ... anyone who held a position of responsibility back then – like doctors, nurses and salesmen – are no longer spring chickens.”

In 2010, Gordon and around six lawyers from his former firm Slater & Gordon negotiated a $60 million settlement for 45 thalidomide victims in Australia and New Zealand. The ex-gratia package went to compensated survivors who had settled their common law claims in the 1970s.

Thalidomide was introduced as a sedative in Australia in the 1950s. Its use was subsequently linked to birth defects including phocomelia, in which babies are born with limbs that look like flippers.

The drug was withdrawn from the market in November 1961.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Thalidomide class action breakthrough
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...