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It is unusual for a lawyer to agree to an interview after losing a trial.

It is more common for him to do it when he wins.

Ignacio Martínez (Murcia, 1968)

represents the Association of People Affected by Thalidomide (Avite) and a few days ago he received another slam from the court.

In fact, he has not lost the trial, because the

Supreme Court

has refused to study the appeal that he filed against the Government and on which the National Court had already ruled.

That is, it has been an inadmissibility for processing.

One more stripe for the tiger, as the saying goes.

And the feline of those affected by thalidomide in Spain already has many stripes.

How many?

If you have been lost, it is not surprising


Martínez assumes that "people, public opinion, have been left with the image that was seen on the news with the

thalidomide agents bouncing

with happiness in front of Congress, when the

2018 General State Budget Law

was approved ."

And now "they don't understand anything."

Law 6/2018 reserved a game of 20 million euros to help those affected by thalidomide, distributed by recognized disability points.

Each point was agreed to be compensated with 12,000 euros.

A team of experts from

the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII)

was in charge of assessing those affected and determining the points of disability and, therefore, the compensation that corresponded to them.

The ISCIII evaluated 127 affected and only with that number it was already seen that the 20 million euros were going to be very short.

The figure had to be raised to 120 million to pay aid to that hundred recognized victims.

But since then the Government has not complied with the law:

neither with 20 million nor with 120 million.

Those affected by thalidomide have not seen a euro derived from what the budget laws include since 2018. Because until the last of these regulations, that of December 2022, recognizes the item for those affected with the figure of 20 million.

The lawyer Ignacio Martinez.

Now that the Supreme Court has closed the judicial path to request that the budget law be complied with, what is the next step that Avite is going to take? We will have to resume the political path.

In addition, since it is an election year, we think that some parties for not losing votes and others for winning them, we are going to demand that the Government that is in command comply with the law.

Four years ago a law said that it was necessary to pay


some aid so that the purpose of this aid is not lost and in four and a half years they have not done anything.

If more time elapsed and it was not complied with, then we would have to go to court again to say: listen, you told me that four and a half years were worthless [the National Court reasoned in its sentence that not enough time had passed to be able to comply the law].

So is seven years enough?

We cannot accept that we are not in the rule of law.

How do you explain the government's refusal? Governments act for electoral interests and, in my opinion, the possible electoral effect of thalidomide is amortized.

That is, when the law came out, in 2018, where aid to


was recognized , the newscasts removed the


jumping for joy in front of Congress.

People, public opinion, understood that the problem was already solved.

Now they don't understand anything


People have been lost.

So, those who are now in the Government

understand that not complying with the law no longer entails any electoral cost


While complying with it means they set aside money that they have not included in the budgets, because what they have put in the last general budget law, that of December 2022, is once again 20 million. So in the 2023 budget law The game of 20 million aid to the victims of thalidomide appears again. Yes, of course.

That is the problem that must be understood to realize the scam that this is.

Since 2018, 20 million reserved for aid to victims of thalidomide have always appeared budgeted and in the latest budget law the same amount also appears again, 20 million.

And it doesn't make sense because in the assessments made

by the Carlos III Health Institute

[assessed the disability points of 127 affected] when applying the protocol that the Government itself dictated, 120 million euros would have to be provisioned. But before going to court, you and members of Avite met with representatives of the Ministries of Health and Tax authorities.

What did they tell you about why the indemnities were not being paid? Yes, we met several times.

From the Ministry of Finance we came to hear that the best thing we could do was sue them, sue the Government for breaking the law, because that way, with a sentence that forced them to pay, they would have to pay.

How do you fit these legal setbacks when other countries have compensated those affected by thalidomide for years? Well, for me, the most serious thing is that when Law 6/2018 came out, what was done was to socialize the loss.

That is to say,

The Government decided that they were not going to touch the Grünenthal pharmaceutical company, so the poor Spanish citizen paid with his taxes.

This is something that you may like more or less, but it is so.


Worst of all is the



of having to assimilate that, since 2018, there is a law that says that some gentlemen have to be paid help and that it is not paid.

The Government does nothing and the National Court and the Supreme Court laugh at it.

While people are dying.

That's what's amazing.

The rule of law does not exist for them.

Maybe because we are a small number of people... No, on the contrary, our sin is that we are too big for them, because they need more money for aid.

In addition to thalidomide, you have more cases related to health errors. Of course.

I don't live from this.

I live on cases of individuals affected by medical malpractice and that's what my children eat.

To me these

macro cases

They give me nothing but work. And displeasures... Well, but also the pleasure of going to bed with a clear conscience because someone has to do this job.

As a society, we cannot allow these things to go unpunished.

Even so, you are a repeat offender because you also take people affected by valproic acid (Depakine), which has been baptized as the other thalidomide. Yes, seven years ago a father of a child affected by valproate attended.

He called me out for being the thalidomide advocate.

It is a case that has many similarities with thalidomide, but also differences, because it is something much more recent and it has affected fewer people, about 25 people. Do you already have any judicial response? At the moment there are courts and sentences have been issued in the cases of five children, of which the claim has been upheld in three cases and rejected in another two,

which are in the appeal process.

So these cases will go to the Supreme Court and we'll see how they play out. Another similarity between thalidomide and valproic acid is that you're up against big pharma.

How is he doing? Yes, well, with the perspective of the years you realize that there was a certain naivety on my part or romanticism in accepting these cases, because no matter how many movies you have seen, like

The Constant Gardener

, because you don't realize where you've gotten yourself.

And it is not that it is a David against Goliath fight, it is that

the party is bought.

Apart from the fact that he even suffers crimes.

My computer has been stolen twice with all the information on the case and my email account has been hacked from Germany.

I have reported everything to the Technological Crimes Unit of the National Police.

Do you have proof of who it may have been? No, there is no proof.

I cannot say that it was these or the others, because I have no proof.

But there are moral certainties about very strong issues, but since they cannot be proven, then you do what you can.

We change third, you have been dedicated to this branch of Health Law for 25 years, you must find something that satisfies you. Yes, I have been in the legal profession since 1991 and for 25 years I have only dedicated myself to medical issues and, man, satisfactions, many.

I have hundreds of cases that I have won and 20 years ago it was almost impossible to win a medical malpractice case.

Now it is something very normal.

The people who come to me want it to be recognized that it was done wrong in their case.

With so many lawsuits for medical malpractice behind you, what would you say to the doctors you sit on the bench? Most doctors should have more information on how medical malpractice is cleared up in Spain.

The reality is that criminal proceedings are practically non-existent and, therefore, the one who pays, let's say, in a non-criminal proceeding, which is civil or contentious-administrative, is the Administration or an insurer.

The doctor does not pay.

So, what I think is that you have to have a certain view of reality.

What would you say to the doctors you sit on the bench? Most doctors should have more information on how medical malpractice is debugged in Spain.

The reality is that criminal proceedings are practically non-existent and, therefore, the one who pays, let's say, in a non-criminal proceeding, which is civil or contentious-administrative, is the Administration or an insurer.

The doctor does not pay.

So, what I think is that you have to have a certain view of reality.

What would you say to the doctors you sit on the bench? Most doctors should have more information on how medical malpractice is debugged in Spain.

The reality is that criminal proceedings are practically non-existent and, therefore, the one who pays, let's say, in a non-criminal proceeding, which is civil or contentious-administrative, is the Administration or an insurer.

The doctor does not pay.

So, what I think is that you have to have a certain view of reality.

It is necessary to assume that medical activity is a risky activity

, as is the case with wheeled traffic, and not make a moral issue out of this, but rather a risk issue that must be insured.

In the United States it is recognized that the greatest cause of death is medical negligence, greater than a heart attack.

Where do you get that data from? Well, I don't remember exactly, but I do have the figure: there are 300,000 deaths a year due to medical negligence.

So my message to doctors is to follow the law when it comes to informing the patient.

And that is not giving the patient a role with

informed consent

almost at the last moment of the intervention, but really, they must explain to people what they have, what they know is going to happen, what they don't know, the pros and cons.

I think adhering to this would really avoid a lot of lawsuits.

They can respond to this observation that there is no time to care for the patient as he deserves. But that cannot be.

If you have time to operate, can't you invest five minutes to inform about the risks that the patient assumes by entering an operating room? Does this information only take five minutes? Yes, in five minutes.

I am going to give you a typical example: an elderly person who has knee pain and is put on the surgical waiting list for a prosthesis.

At some point in the process, the man signs an

informed consent paper

where the typical risks appear: loosening of the prosthesis, tears... Then it comes to us, the lawyers who are experts in Health Law, because it has these tears, inflammations, infections.

And they are men over 80 years old, in many cases.

So, do you think that if this gentleman had been told that his pain was treated and the risk he assumed with the operation had been explained to him well, well, I believe that most of those patients would not have had surgery, because

the risk-benefit balance

would have made to see that it was better not to enter the operating room.

And I have discussed these issues with many doctors.

With these operations, health spending, waiting lists and damage are increased.

So improving the information to the patient, complying with what the law says about the information, because it would reduce the damage.

The second thing I tell doctors is that they should not insist on denying that the sun rises in the east, that there are insurers that respond, that nothing happens, that that is what insurance is for and that

everyone is wrong.

Martínez studied Law at the Faculty of Murcia


He began to specialize in Health Law from the case of a boy who lost a testicle after an inguinal hernia operation.

He contacted the

Patient Advocate Association


directed by Carmen Flores and centralizes complaints from patients who consider themselves victims of malpractice, from which he receives cases.

Within Health Law,

he handles many cases related to drug damage and unwanted births.

He works throughout Spain and recognizes that "it is a specialty that gives a lot of satisfaction but also dissatisfaction, although as a balance I will end my professional stage with a very clear conscience."

Do you think that convictions or acquittals in medical practice judgments depend, in part, on the judge or magistrates who judge the case? I think it would be very important for there to be specialized judicial bodies in the matter of medical practice, as there are in other matters .

And it would also be essential to regulate the non-imposition of costs, especially in those cases supported by an expert report.

Because most of the time it is not possible to file a lawsuit because people do not have the financial resources to face the risk of being ordered to pay legal costs.

Free justice is only for the solemnly poor.

So we are forcing families to accept malpractice or risk suing, losing, and being sentenced to pay costs that in some cases can be in the millions. Yeah, but, on the other hand, we are witnessing convictions millionaires, not so much because of the compensation granted, but because the payment of interest that appears in article 20 of the Insurance Contract Law is added.

Don't you consider this unfair to the other party: the Health Administration and your insurance company?


article 20 of the Insurance Contract Law

It is very well put, because what it says is very simple.

If an industry has an average profit of 15% in any industrial activity, the judge in his sentence cannot put an interest lower than that or not put any because, in this way, he is artificially rewarding the insurer to appeal the lawsuit and keep it alive the longer the better.

If the sentence sets the legal interest of the money,

it is convenient for the insurer

, even if it has no reason, to throw 20 years in the lawsuit because the money gives more performance.

With article 20 of the LCS, what the legislator says is: listen, think about it because economically it will turn out badly for you to discuss what you do not have to discuss.

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