Teen’s swine flu jab sleep disorder case settled for €1.2m

Girl, now 16, also suffers loss of muscle control since receiving vaccine 12 years ago

The settlement follows on from the case of a 16-year-old boy who settled his action in November of last year with the terms agreed then paving the way for some 80 other outstanding cases to be dealt with.

A 16-year-old girl who sued claiming she developed a rare sleep disorder after receiving a swine flu jab has settled her High Court action for €1.2 million.

The teenager, who cannot be named by order of the court, was aged four when she received the Pandemrix vaccine in November 2009 at a health centre.

Her counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather SC, said the child developed symptoms within months and started to fall asleep during the day.

A diagnosis of narcolepsy along with cataplexy, which involves loss of muscle control, was made in early 2013.


Counsel said the girl suffered two falls as a result of her debilitating condition and on one occasion had broken her arm. If she laughs, she suffers loss of muscle control, he added.

The latest settlement follows on from the case of a 16-year-old boy who settled his action in November of last year.

That ground breaking settlement paved the way for the resolution of 80 cases over the Pandemrix vaccine. It was agreed under the terms of that settlement that 50 per cent of the settlement figure would be paid out.

Mr Kilfeather told the High Court on Friday the €1.2 million settlement represented 50 per cent of the full value of the girl’s case.

The court previously heard that extensive benefits in the settlement include educational supports, accommodation costs in relation to third-level education, a “gold” medical card and childcare costs.

Through her mother, she sued the Minister for Health, the HSE, and Glaxosmithkline Biologicals SA (GSK) - the producer of Pandemrix.


GSK previously got an indemnity from the State concerning any adverse reactions to the vaccine.

On Friday, Mr Kilfeather said females get a higher level of damages than males in these type of cases as women who have to be on medication to control the narcolepsy and cataplexy for the rest of their lives must come off it if they wish to become pregnant.

Counsel said that, because coming off the medication can exacerbate the symptoms, the awards to females are slightly higher than for males and take account of future childcare costs.

In the teenager’s action, it was claimed, in the months following getting the Pandemrix vaccine, she began to fall asleep unexpectedly in the middle of the day and to experience disturbed sleep and nightmares.

Her mother reported that to her GP in April 2012 and, following a further visit to the doctor in October 2012, she was referred for further tests.

It was noted the girl frequently fell asleep during the day, sometimes in inappropriate situations, and it was claimed this was in contrast to her pre-vaccinated state when she had been a very active child.

It was claimed she requires supervision for many activities that would not usually require supervision at her age, including having a bath or staying over at a friend’s house for the night. It was further claimed she is afraid to swim in case she loses power in her arms and legs which she believes would result in drowning.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he had no hesitation in approving the settlement, which he described as a very good one.