Here’s an interesting one for ya. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting on a vaccine injury case filed by an Atlanta couple. The story is familiar and sad—a child starts off as a normal baby, and eventually develops a devastating neurologic illness. Based on the fact that symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders happen to show up around the same time as vaccines are given, the family blames the vaccines.
Here’s the saga:
The Ferrari’s decided to sue. They brought suit against:
[…]nine vaccine manufacturers, eight manufacturers of thimerosal and one manufacturer of a treatment used for mothers when their blood types are incompatible with their fetuses. The Ferraris also sued Georgia Power, claiming that mercury emissions from its power plants also injured their son.
In 2005, a state court judge rightly dismissed the suit against the vaccine manufacturers, given that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program specifically protects manufacturers. The Appellate Court, based on a precedent regarding a technical issue, disagreed, and now the case is in the Georgia Supreme Court.
The primary issue, is, I believe, whether the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act of 1986 preempts state laws. This act was passed specifically because lawsuits, frivolous and otherwise, were causing the cost of vaccines to soar, and creating a potential public health crisis. The suit allows for compensation of injured parties outside the court system (and is much more lenient than the usual courts, as the Hanah Poling case showed). It would seem that the Ferrari’s suit is just the type of thing the law was designed to stop.
According to the AJC:
Bridgers, the Ferraris’ lawyer, told the justices that courts should review vaccine challenges on a case-by-case basis, not bar them completely. Otherwise, complaints must be brought in Washington before the U.S. Court of Claims where there are restrictions on the amount of awards, he said.
“Did Congress really intend to create an opt-out provision that allows the child to be thrown out of court?” Bridgers asked the justices. “I think not.”
Well, apparently Congress intended exactly that, but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what the courts say.