On February 10, lawyers from Howie, Sacks and Henry (HSH) and Waddell Phillips held their first town hall meeting at the Royal Canadian Legion 139 in Mississauga to discuss the Mefloquine lawsuit. The first of many to be held across Canada, the town halls are designed for veterans and their families who experienced harmful side effects associated with the use of Mefloquine. The objective is to provide a comprehensive overview of the lawsuit – who can join, the process, what to expect - and to answer any questions or concerns.
During the 1990s military personnel were ordered to take the anti-malaria drug Mefloquine, despite potential common side effects. As Health Canada highlighted in its 2016 report, serious impacts include anxiety, paranoia, depression and thoughts of suicide. Notwithstanding evidence of those downsides, prescriptions continued. As a result, thousands of military members have been suffering from a range of debilitating symptoms.
Determined to hold the Canadian Government to account for their negligent behaviour, HSH and Waddell Phillips are working together to help veterans secure the compensation they deserve for the unnecessary pain they’ve suffered - and continue to suffer - due to the harmful drug.
Introducing the town hall and the legal team was John Dowe, founder of International Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance – a network of veterans, families and friends affected by the anti-malaria drug advocating for its ban. The veteran served in the Canadian Forces from 1990 to 2000 and was prescribed Mefloquine while deployed in Somalia. He’s been suffering from its side effects, such as anxiety and insomnia, ever since.
“We share a passion for change,” Dowe said to the packed room, “a change to our policy and to get acknowledgement from our government.” That objective is made possible, he added, “by you coming out and our community growing.” Dowe went on to explain that he started the Mefloquine Veterans’ Alliance to get these voices heard. Thanks to the work of law firms and others dedicated to the cause, he continued, those voices are definitely getting out there.
HSH’s Paul Miller then shared why the case is so significant. “Over the last while I have spoken to so many vets and it has had a huge impact,” he stated. “They put their lives on the line for us.” Yet, he continued, they were told to take a drug without knowing its side effects, putting their lives in chaos. To make matters worse, the government refuses to acknowledge its responsibility in the matter. “The same people who asked you to put your life on the line has turned their back on you; it’s mind-blowing.”
Paul and Cory Wanless— co-counsel at Waddell Phillips— proceeded to discuss the specifics of the case and clarify common questions. For one thing, the case is being pursued as a mass tort, not a class action. A mass tort allows for multiple individual lawsuits to take place simultaneously and gives everyone a chance to have their say, explains Miller of the benefits this approach allows.
For another, thanks to experts like former U.S. Army Major Dr. Remington Nevin - who now heads the Quinism Foundation, an organization that researches the effects of Mefloquine and related drugs - the lawyers are gathering strong evidence to make their case.
The legal team then outlined the process that they follow when contacted – the questions that they ask, the contingency agreement, documents requested and how the litigation will run.
With 500 people have already contacted HSH in seven short weeks (thanks in large part to social media), the response has been nothing short of phenomenal, says Miller. However, with many not on social media, he encouraged everyone at the meeting to reach out to their friends and anyone else they knew who may benefit from the case.
Future Town Hall Meetings
- February 23 at the Kingsway Legion, in Edmonton, AB
- March 9, in Gagetown, NB
- Stay tuned for additional updates.
If you took Mefloquine and think you may have suffered side effects, please contact Paul Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-646-3901.