Philadelphia – It was recently announced by the Canadian Minister of Health that survivors of Thalidomide will receive increased financial compensation, another victory in the decades-long pursuit of justice, according to Stephen E. Raynes of Raynes & Lawn. Both Raynes and his father, Arthur, worked pro bono over the years to advocate for these individuals who were victims not only of Thalidomide but of inadequate product liability laws of the time.
Thalidomide is a drug that was provided to pregnant women in the 1960s to help with morning sickness. It was later associated with severe birth defects and disfigurement. However, at the time, Canadian law did not recognize strict liability for product defects. Arthur Raynes then pursued a class-action lawsuit in Canada that was settled even before Stephen entered into the practice of law. The survivors’ journey, however, didn’t end there.
“While the arrangement was adequate at the time, physicians simply could not predict the victims’ medical needs as they aged,” said Stephen Raynes. “As it turned out, the settlement was not enough.”
As a result, Stephen Raynes joined the fight for justice in 2012, eventually persuading Parliament that Canada had abandoned some of its most vulnerable citizens. In 2015, Canada committed $180 million in support for the survivors of Thalidomide. Last month, that amount was extended to include “a tax-free, lump-sum payment to each survivor to cover urgent health care, ongoing annual payments based on level of disability, and an Extraordinary Medical Assistance Fund (EMAF) to support survivors with extraordinary medical expenses such as specialized surgery not otherwise covered by provincial/territorial health care plans or home or vehicle adaptations,” according to a news release from the Canadian government.
The changes were the result of ongoing discussions with Health Canada officials, the Minister’s office, the Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce, of which Steve Raynes is a member, and the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada.
Founded 50 years ago, Raynes & Lawn has secured record personal injury recoveries for its clients in matters of product liability, medical malpractice, trucking and workplace accidents, aviation disasters and civil rights litigation: over two billion dollars in all for victims of catastrophic injury. The firm is committed to protecting clients and their families through dignified advocacy and confidentiality.