Medical Negligence

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€1.2m for girl diagnosed with narcolepsy after swine flu jab

A mediator in the High Court action of a 16-year-old girl who sued claiming she developed a rare sleep disorder after receiving a swine flu jab has recommended a €1.28m award in her case.

The teenager, who cannot be named by order of the court, received the Pandemrix vaccine when she was almost five years of age.

She was diagnosed with the sleeping disorder, narcolepsy, and cataplexy, an associated muscle weakness, four years later.

Her counsel Jonathan Kilfeather SC told the High Court it had been hoped the young girl, who is very hardworking and bright, would have gone on to study medicine.

Her case follows the case of a 16-year-old boy who settled his action last November in a groundbreaking settlement that paved the way for the resolution of 80 cases over the Pandemrix vaccine.


It was agreed under the terms of the settlement that 50% of the settlement figure would be paid out, which in the case of the 16-year-old girl the High Court heard comes to €1.28m.

The court previously heard there are extensive benefits in the settlements which include educational supports, accommodation costs in relation to third-level education, a “gold” medical card, as well as childcare costs.

The girl had through her mother sued the minister for health, the HSE, and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA (GSK) — the producer of Pandemrix.

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

Mediation between the sides took place and a determination was issued last month which was before the High Court yesterday for approval.

Liability on 50:50 basis

According to the determination of the mediator, liability had been agreed on a 50:50 basis.

The girl, according to the mediator’s report, reacted almost immediately after having received the vaccine in December 2009 and by January 2010, her parents became concerned as she was falling asleep at mealtimes and returning from school exhausted.

Since then, the report said the girl has continued to suffer from daily excessive tiredness and excessive sleepiness and would nap for three or four hours every evening after coming home from school.

In 2013, a diagnosis of narcolepsy and cataplexy was confirmed, and a treatment plan was put in place.

The girl’s mother told the court her daughter has very good support at home and at school and her medication has been life-changing.

She said they hope their daughter will make the best of the situation.

Approving the award Mr Justice Kevin wished the girl all the best for the future.

The judge said the girl can look towards other careers in the field of medicine which would not require her to be on call.

Ann O’Loughlin

Irish Examiner