Court approves two settlements over epilepsy drug use
The High Court has approved two settlements totalling almost €18m for two young boys whose mother was given the epilepsy drug Epilim while she was pregnant.
Elizabeth Elliot Clarke, from Rathfarnham in Dublin, had sued consultant neurologist Raymond Murphy on behalf of her two sons, Jack, 13, and nine-year-old Tom.
She alleged that both her sons suffer with autism as a result of her being prescribed the drug sodium valproate or Epilim in pregnancy.
A settlement of €15m was approved for Jack by the High Court with no admission of liability by the defendant.
Read our piece on the sodium valproate scandal.
The defendant admitted liability in Tom's case and a settlement of €2.65m was approved, which will be reviewed again in seven years' time.
Mrs Clarke and her husband Kent have a third case pending before the court in respect of their daughter, Hannah, who is now aged 15.
In a statement read on Mrs Clarke’s behalf, she said the outcome of today’s cases meant "quite simply, vindication" and that the blame for the injuries suffered by her children did not lie at her door.
She said she wanted her boys' cases to help others and hoped the settlements would open the doors for others who she said, deserve to be vindicated.
Mrs Clarke said the family must live with the injuries suffered by their children every day, but the most difficult element they had had to come to terms with was that it had now been clearly found that none of this had to happen.
She said the legal process and all of the assessments needed for it had disrupted the children’s routines, which were so important for children with autism. She said this had added even more stress to their lives.
She thanked the family’s legal team, who she said had held their hands throughout the process.
Solicitor Ciara McPhillips, of Michael Boylan Litigation, said around 1,200 children in the State are believed to have been affected and her firm was dealing with almost 30 similar cases.
Senior Counsel Aongus O Brolcháin told the judge he would be very moved by the history of the care that Mr and Mrs Clarke had given to three children with autism. He described them as "quite amazing".
In her claim, Mrs Clarke said if she had been advised of the risks to her sons of taking Epilim during pregnancy, she would have opted for alternative treatment and in all probability her sons would not have suffered the damage they had suffered.
She claimed the neurologist did not discuss the risks associated with Epilim with her leading up to her pregnancies with the boys.
Both boys have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and have a number of difficulties as a result.
The court heard the family intend to use some of the money to build a house or adapt a house for the children's needs.