Australian woman wins big payout from Diageo
MELBOURNE - Reuters
Lynette Rowe (L) with her legal team leaves the Supreme Court in Melbourne. Rowe, aged 50, was born without arms and legs after her mother took thalidomide. AFP photoAn Australian woman has won a multi-million dollar payout from UK company Diageo, the local distributor of the drug Thalidomide that caused birth defects in thousand of babies around the world in the 1960s, her lawyers said yesterday.
Lynette Rowe, 50, was born without arms and legs after her mother Wendy took Thalidomide for a month while pregnant. At the time the drug was prescribed as a treatment for morning sickness.
The settlement with Rowe could pave the way for more than 100 other Thalidomide victims in Australia and New Zealand to receive compensation through a class action, the law firm Slater & Gordon said.
Drug made by Grunenthal
The drug was made by German company Grunenthal and was licensed in Australia to the firm Distillers, which was later taken over by Diageo.
Grunenthal did not contribute to the settlement, the law firm said. Rowe’s settlement follows a A$50 million ($51 million) payment Diageo agreed to make in 2010 to 45 Thalidomide victims in Australia and New Zealand, who sought help to cope with the mounting costs of care as they were living longer than expected.
“The approach announced today is both fair and equitable to all involved in this very sensitive and difficult situation,” said Diageo director Ian Wright.
Diageo had “agreed a process that will explore resolution of as many of the remaining group claims as possible,” he said.
The cases have been closely watched in the United States, where a complaint has been filed against GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Avantor Performance Materials and Grunenthal, with several plaintiffs claiming their birth defects resulted from their mothers’ use of Thalidomide. Diageo also owns Turkey’s Mey İçki, the largest producers of Turkey’s national alcoholic beverage rakı.