Fresh hope for parents' court battle

By Sharon AsplinTHE parents of a boy who was born without eyes have been given fresh hope in their battle for compensation from a U.S. chemical giant.

By Sharon Asplin

THE parents of a boy who was born without eyes have been given fresh hope in their battle for compensation from a U.S. chemical giant.

Chris and Maggie Bourne's son, Andrew, 16, has anopthalmia, a rare condition where a baby is born without eyes.

The couple, of Skyrmans Fee, Frinton, are among a group of parents who have alleged the mother's exposure to the garden spray Benlate, manufactured by U.S. chemical company DuPont, had caused the birth defect in their children.


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Mrs Bourne said she was exposed to Benlate while spraying roses during the early stages of her pregnancy with Andrew while living near Brentwood.

Now the Castillos, an American family whose son was born with a similar condition, have been awarded millions of dollars in compensation by the highest court in their state.

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Mr Bourne, a retired firefighter, said the Castillo family, who spearheaded the original legal challenge, had initially won compensation, only to see DuPont appeal and win.

But the couple have now learned the Florida Supreme Court has reinstated the $4million jury award made to the Castillos.

"The judges apparently said the original case was 'good and sound'. We are delighted that it looks like we can now go forward with our own case," said Mr Bourne.

"To be honest, we are just carrying on day to day like any other family and if it should go ahead, we will take it as it comes.

"The case is always at the back of your mind, even though you are trying to forget it and not get your hopes up. But it looks like we might see the end at long last."

Andrew has just started a life skills course at the RNIB college in Redhill, Surrey, designed to try to make him as independent as possible.

"We are thrilled. School was great and he learned a lot, but it was not bringing him out into the world. Whatever he can achieve, I think he can achieve it there," said Mr Bourne.

The family suffered a major setback in their legal battle in January. Although armed with testimonies from an English medical professor and an American medical researcher, these were ruled inadmissible by the district judge.

But three judges in West Virginia will look at their case again later this month and decide if the original judge was wrong not to allow the Bournes' challenge to continue.

DuPont halted Benlate production in 2001 after 32 years. No-one from was available for comment last night at DuPont's UK offices in Stevenage.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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