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Date of Knowledge and Limitation: Lewin v Glaxo, Case Report - Thomas Crockett, 1 Chancery Lane

14/02/17. In cases concerning an allegation of bodily injury, time for the purposes of statutory limitation does not begin to run until the cause of action accrues or the date of knowledge of the alleged victim. The latter may be some months or years after the effluxion of the usual three year limitation period from the accrual of the cause of action. However it is rarely decades as it was in a recent case in the Queen’s Bench Division. In common with much of the extensive corpus of authority as to limitation, Keith Malcolm Lewin v Glaxo Operations Uk Ltd (Sued As Glaxosmithkline Unltd) [2016] EWHC 3331 (QB), turns on its own facts. It is however worthy of summary.

Here, upon hearing the trial of a preliminary issue on the subject, Mr Justice Goss found that the claimant’s claim was not statute-barred despite the claimant making complaint of treatment he received as long ago as 1973.

Some 44 years ago, the claimant underwent a diagnostic procedure during which Mydil was injected into his spine. It was held that the claimant's date of knowledge arose when he was diagnosed as late as 2015 as suffering from post-Myodil adhesive arachnoiditis.

In the five or so years following the 1973 procedure, the claimant experienced persisting problems in his lumbar and cervical spine. This was investigated further in 1977 when it was considered that whilst the claimant may have had adhesive arachnoiditis, it could not be confirmed and further x-rays were unnecessary. The claimant’s problems continued during the 1990s, but it was not until 2007 when he developed severe left knee pain and thereafter other symptoms. An MRI scan in 20112 showed adhesions to his thoracic spine and the potential link between Myodil and the claimant’s condition was discussed. He underwent surgery in 2013, but it was not until March 2015 when a...

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