By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) court case where 19 bereaved parents are seeking redress from the Gambia Government was adjourned to the end of January 2024 to allow for Indian company Maiden Pharmaceuticals to be served. In the last court sitting on the case, Justice Jaiteh urged both the plaintiffs and the defendants to progress out of court settlement which has seen the first meeting take place according to lawyers of both the state and the plaintiffs.
The latest court sitting took place on 15th December 2023 at 10 am and as usual Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Atlantic Pharmaceuticals were both not present nor were they represented in court. Although Atlantic Pharmaceuticals who were based in The Gambia until they were shut down by the Government, were duly served, Maiden Pharmaceuticals is based in India and is still yet to be served.
Justice Jaiteh of the High Court started by taking note of attendance in court which consisted of a good number of bereaved parents and their lawyers Counsel Yassin Senghore, Anna Njie and S. Joof, and the Lawyers of the State Counsel Dinshiya Binga who represented the Ministry of Health, Medicines Control Agency and the Attorney General’s Office. It was noted that Maiden Pharmaceuticals who manufactured the poisonous drugs and Atlantic Pharmaceuticals who distributed the said poisonous drugs, were both not in court nor were they represented.
After establishing the parties of the suit present Justice Jaiteh asked the lawyers for the bereaved parents seeking D285 million as redress to explain their progress in serving notice to Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India to attend the court case. In response, Lawyer Senghore for the Plaintiff explained that they are working with a lawyer in India to affect the service and are expecting a response from their lawyer by midday on the 15th of December 2023.
To substantiate her statement Lawyer Senghore brought communications with their Indian Lawyer counterpart. However, it was agreed that by the next adjourned date the serving of notice should have been done. Justice Jaiteh noted that all that is needed is for the Plaintiffs to demonstrate that the notice was advertised in the news.
Next Justice Jaiteh shifted his attention to the out-of-court settlement negotiations. He questioned Lawyer Binga on progress made on settlement which was scheduled to take place on 30th November 2023. In response, Lawyer Binga explained that significant progress has been made with the main issue being the compensation which he said the state was looking into to come out with a definitive position. Lawyer Binga for the State pledged that “by the grace of God, by the next adjourned date, the Government will come out with a definitive position on the issue”.
Lawyer Senghore for the bereaved parents confirmed that a discussion was held with representatives of the Office of the Attorney General on the matter, however, an agreement has not been reached. Nonetheless, Lawyer Senghore stated that they are open to continuing discussions on settlement. She highlighted that the discussions can continue parallel with the court case. In reaction to that Justice Jaiteh noted that the only delay in the court proceedings is due to the issue of service, which has not yet been confirmed.
After addressing those two concerns, Justice Jaiteh noted that the Defense (Lawyer Binga for the State) filed a motion before the court which Justice Jaiteh requested confirmation that the Plaintiffs had received. Lawyer Senghore confirmed receiving the motion and stated that they intend to oppose the motion on grounds of law.
When Justice Jaiteh asked Defense Counsel Binga if he was ready to move his motion, he responded in the negative that he needed more time to move his motion. At this stage, a discussion ensued facilitated by Justice Jaiteh who noted that the State needs the Plaintiffs and the parents in particular to file an international lawsuit against the Indian company. In addition to this Justice Jaiteh highlighted that the Indian Government and company have a responsibility to ensure their products are fit for purpose and not claiming the lives of Gambians.
Lawyer Bina explained that they have taken steps internationally and are currently engaged in diplomatic talks with the Indian Government to progress legal proceedings against Maiden Pharmaceuticals. Lawyer Senghore seized the opportunity to explain that the Government can’t shift all the blame on the Indian company or government as the Gambia has a responsibility to test the drugs before being distributed in the Gambia.
After more discussions, Justice Jaiteh adjourned the case to 31st January 2024 from 14:15. Below is a publication on the two previous cases that the Pharmaceutical Companies failed to attend.