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Irwin Mitchell and Hodge Jones & Allen have been hit with a professional negligence claim over how they case managed a group action relating to the measle, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Leeds-based Blacks Solicitors disputes chief Luke Patel is instructed in the case for former clients of the two firms, with David Berkley QC of St John’s Buildings building a case.
It is argued that because Irwin Mitchell and Hodge Jones & Allen put all claimants into one group alongside those who wrongly believed the jab could be connected to autism, they were not awarded the right levels of compensation, if any.
The firms also started legal proceedings too late and failed to advance any claim based on the unsafe Urabe mumps virus vaccine, the claimants contend. It comes after the Vaccine Damages Payments Unit refused compensation to claimant Katie Stephen, who was turned down on the basis that although she could prove the link between the jab and her hearing, she was only deaf in one ear.
Patel said: “Blacks Solicitors is acting for former litigants in the MMR Vaccine Litigation. Letters of claims have been sent and acknowledged. The present claims concern allegations of professional negligence against the lawyers who acted for the former MMR litigants. The issues are wide ranging and include loss of chance of obtaining damages arising from the conduct of the litigation by the lawyers.
“The cases are at present against Hodge Jones & Allen and Irwin Mitchell. We are now investigating an alleged claim against another firm as well.”
The claim is being funded on a conditional fee basis with after-the-event insurance in place. This means that if the claimants are successful Irwin Mitchell and Hodge, Jones & Allen could be left picking up the legal bills.
It is understood Richard Barr, was the partner who led the class action, has since left the firm for Scott Moncrieff & Associates where he is a solicitor consultant.
An Irwin Mitchell spokesman said: “As this matter is currently subject to a legal process, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Hodge Jones & Allen declined to comment. Barr also declined to comment.