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19 July 2012 at 11:24 BST

Diageo in major settlement with thalidomide victim

Lynette Rowe -- who was born without arms and legs -- has been offered more than AU$1 million by multi-national corporation Diageo as compensation for the effects of thalidomide.

Melbourne: Slater & Gordon hopeful of more payouts

According to Bloomberg, Melbourne-based class action firm Slater & Gordon represented Ms Rowe and said the settlement will pave the way for agreements for more than 100 other affected people.

Relieving parents

In a statement, the law firm revealed that ‘compensation from the UK company Diageo plc will provide Ms Rowe with care for the rest of her life, relieving her ageing parents who have dedicated themselves to her needs for the past 50 years’. Peter Gordon, Rowe’s lawyer, confirmed that ‘the amount of the settlement will remain private but I can say it is a multimillion-dollar amount’.
London-based Diageo – manufacturer of Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky -- acquired Distillers Co (Biochemicals), the distributor of thalidomide in Australia and New Zealand, in 1997.The drug was prescribed to pregnant women suffering from morning sickness in the 1950s and 60s.
According to the Expat Newsletter, Diageo director Ian Wright commented that ‘the approach announced today is both fair and equitable to all involved in this very sensitive and difficult situation’.

Similar payouts

Slater & Gordon is seeking to postpone for about a year a trial scheduled for 8 October to allow for negotiations regarding settlements for other thalidomide victims, in the hope that that Rowe case will spark similar payouts.
However, Michael Magazanik, another lawyer for Ms Rowe, expressed regret that Grunenthal, the German manufacturer of thalidomide, had ‘refused to contribute to the settlement’. He added that ‘Grunenthal likes to say it did nothing wrong in relation to thalidomide but we challenge Grunenthal to make public its own thalidomide documents and let the public decide for themselves what they think of Grunenthal’s behaviour.’


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