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Man awarded $12-million for paralyzing flu shot

Published Oct. 27, 1994
Updated Oct. 8, 2005

A Monroe County jury has awarded more than $12-million to a Marathon man who became paralyzed after getting a flu shot in 1989.

Boyd Farnes, 38, sued the vaccine's manufacturer, seller and distributor in a case that was heard this week and last in Monroe County Circuit Court.

Farnes was working as an aide at the Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys in 1989 when employees were offered flu shots, said his attorney Charles Sinclair.

"He signed up for it and got a flu shot and 11 days later, he started getting paralysis," Sinclair said.

The vaccine triggered a return of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an illness Farnes had suffered as a child but that he had recovered from by age 20, Sinclair said. The disorder is a rare form of damage to peripheral nerves that causes weakness in the limbs.

Sinclair said the defendants in the lawsuit _ manufacturer Connaught Laboratories, seller E.R. Squibb & Sons and distributor Henry Schine Inc. _ had an obligation to warn people the vaccine could trigger a return of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.