• Mon, Oct 6 2008

Here We Go Again: Family can sue vaccine maker, Georgia court rules

In the midst of an extensive discussion about vaccines and autism and how the two have come to be linked in the public consciousness, as noted by Dr. Paul Offit in his recently published book Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, here comes a court decision from the Georgia Supreme Court. The decision allows Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari to proceed with a civil lawsuit against vaccine maker American Home Products Corp. As noted in today’s Athens Banner-Herald, this is a “first-of-a-kind ruling by an appellate court that had drawn fierce opposition from the vaccine industry.” Namely, the Georgia Court of Appeals is the first appellate court in the nation to hold that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act (VICP) does not pre-empt state law.

The Ferraris are claiming that a vaccine manufactured by American Home Products caused damage to their son:

The family believes they can prove that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative, caused their son’s disability. Stefan, they say, was a talkative toddler before he got a round of boosters shots when he was 18-months-old. The boy, now 10, hasn’t spoken since.

The case has drawn the protests from the vaccine industry as well as powerful right-leaning lobbying groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation.

Seven other state courts have ruled that the federal laws pre-empt any state law that might give families the power to challenge the vaccine manufacturers.

But the Georgia Court of Appeals became the first appellate court in the nation to rule that the federal law doesn’t take precedence over state tort rules, calling the federal statute unclear.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, which established the VICP, was passed because “policy makers and public health officials had to take action to ensure that the public was protected and that lawsuits would not threaten the nation’s vaccine supply” (p. 37), as Martin G. Myers, M.D., and Diego Pineda state in their book Do Vaccines Cause That?!: A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Safety Concerns. From an official description of the VICP:

The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines.

In “Science in Court,” chapter 8 of Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Offit notes that, as a result of the creation of the VICP, “the number of lawsuits brought against vaccine makers declined dramatically” (157). In “vaccine court,” petitioners must convince a panel of three judges (p. 156); a decision must be reached within 240 days; the average compensation is about $900,000, and “the program is based, for the most part, on a preponderance of sound scientific evidence” (p. 157). Petitioners can still take their case to state courts, where the case has to be argued in front of a jury and where “the process is slower and more expensive”—but, as Dr. Offit notes, “juries have been historically been poor judges of scientific and medical truths.”

More muddied waters ahead.

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  • http://www.homeschoolnetc.blogspot.com Mrs. C

    With all due respect, it really shouldn’t matter what Dr. Offit’s opinion of juries’ scientific understanding may be.

    Juries decide murder trials with DNA and other scientific evidence. Surely a vaccine trial can be decided by a jury.

  • B Campaigne

    The truth is coming children.
    Be patient.
    Your parents will prevail.
    We all saw and felt the changes after the jabs.
    First the fever.
    Then the silence.
    There will be a day of reckoning.
    You will always find remedy within the law.
    Good luck Stefan

  • B Campaigne

    Why is the focus always only on thimerosal?
Included on this list of chemical concerns should also be formaldehyde, M.S.G., aluminum, Butylated hydroxytoluene or B.H.T. and many others.
Don’t let the mainstream media and pharma spin doctors lull you into only focusing on the thimerosal.
Remember these corporations would no doubt lose everything if a connection is made between the preservatives and the world wide vaccine programs.

    Our great grandparents our grandparents and our parents were all infected with toxic preservatives through the inoculation programs.
    I saw my 5yr old son’s live blood analysis taking place.
I saw live candida yeast in his blood.
I saw the heavy metals as well.
Where do you think it came from?
Leaky gut syndrome comes from the M.M.R jab.

    We saw the change in our child right after the second round of vaccinations.

    Freedom of the person requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.
I have come to the conclusion that those who benefit from any societal mechanism rarely wish to understand that mechanism, especially if it appears to grant them power or authority and understanding it or any alternatives would restrict, diminish or destroy that power apparently granted.
They live in a vapid world of learned assumptions.
Most if not all of the researchers and their research are in the pocket of Big Pharma. They have lobbied their way into the core of our societies. I feel sorry for the caregivers who actually administer the jab and wonder how they are going to live with themselves after the truth comes out.
    If we put up with this our children will be next.
    It’s not the vaccines it’s the toxins therein.
    A child on the spectrum is born every 20 minutes. What do they all have in common?
    Wake up people.

  • Regan
  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    I kind of have to ask, why isn’t the focus on education and schools?

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    A comment from Anne on ScienceBlogs discusses this decision more fully.

  • Momof5

    Paul Offit is so vested in maintaining the status quo and pushing even more vaccines, he has developed his own poisoness coctail for mass distribution. There is plenty of evidence to make any intelligent, independent thinking person to question the safety of vaccines. They have been plaqued with problems since the beginning. I am sickened that they are still recommended for anyone let alone newborns and pregnant women. Here is the latest research that shows how they are causing vascular strokes.
    http://newsblaze.com/story/20080927170755tsop.nb/topstory.html

    How long does it take a medical breakthrough to be acted upon?

    A Canadian doctor, Dr. Andrew Moulden says he conclusively proved seven years ago that vaccines cause micro-vascular strokes. Dr Moulden has a 21 year record of award-winning medical study and practice starting at Nipissing University, but he has been unable to get the attention of the College of Physicians or politicians to investigate his findings, which have been corroborated by other doctors……………………………………………….Putting People Before Corporations
    When
    The College of Physicians refuses to acknowledge that there is even a problem and politicians refuse to investigate, what could be done next?

    Dr. Moulden decided to run for election as Member of Parliament in the Nipissing – Timiskaming riding where he grew up. By this action, he plans to bring attention to the issue and to finally end the political problems that are blocking this medical breakthrough. Dr. Moulden says big pharmaceutical companies are exercising control over Canada’s taxpayer-funded universal healthcare system. One of the ways the pharmaceutical companies are exercising control is in Bills C-51 and C-52 currently in Parliament which would essentially criminalize vitamins and supplements and give big pharmaceutical companies a virtual monopoly on medical treatments.

  • Dale Dehetre

    Is there NO ONE in government today, not in the scientific, medical or economic departments that still remember that they are in those positions to protect the very people who elected them. This abuse by the FDIC (Food & Drug) to allow products to be put on the market that literally cause death or handicap to the masses of people who trust them, is enough reason to disband the organization and start fresh. First of all, I cannot fathom how they combined the entities of FOOD and DRUGS in the same department. When they didn’t inject our food with the millions of drugs/chemicals that they now do, we had a healthy population. Let’s get back to basics and stop the money mongers in their tracks and if FDIC passes a food or drug that later caused harm to our people, the department itself should be held responsible as well as the manufacturers.

  • siliconmom

    So here’s the solution:

    Don’t eat
    Don’t breathe
    Don’t drink
    Don’t touch
    Don’t live

    Everyone has a bias. We live in a toxic world. What’s good for you one day is bad the next.

    I have 5 kids, 4 with ASD’s, 1 with ADHD. Life happens. You deal with it. We are blessed. And we choose to not live in fear. Kids are not a trip to Holland or Italy. At best, having kids might be seen as a Magical Mystery Tour. There are no guarantees when you choose to bring a child in to this world. If you thought there was, I’m sorry.

    Let go and move on with life. Stop blaming. Deal with your guilt and anger and mourn if you need to – your feelings are valid and you are right to feel them. But don’t let them rule you. Your kids need and deserve more of you than that.

    Sorry – I just don’t see my children as damaged goods and I don’t think someone/society needs to be punished for the fact that they have autism. As Kristina said, I think that we should focus on education and schools.

  • Regan

    ‘Tis what ’tis. The family has permission to proceed with the case under the conditions specified.

    The only thing to note is that being allowed to proceed forward on the civil case is not the same as as decision. That is yet to come.

  • siliconmom

    Well said. And I do believe it is important to understand the reasons behind why autism occurs, and I admit to a bias towards genetics as the culprit, given my situation. I just wish that all the energy that goes in to blaming and anger could be directed in a more positive direction. My kids have enough to deal with, as do my husband and I.

  • Regan

    This abuse by the FDIC (Food & Drug)

    FDIC has been in the news alot lately, but I believe that’s the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which deals with banking.

    You might be referring to the FDA, Food and Drug Administration.

    Siliconmom–Thanks. I like your simile of the Magical Mystery Tour.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    Count me in for the tour…….

  • Dale Dehetre

    To Regan

    Thanks for catching my error on FDIC which should have read FDA. Every department in our government that has an acronym for a name is in so much dispute nowadays it’s hard to keep them straight. :-))

  • Regan

    Wyeth to Seek Supreme Court Review of Georgia Court Decision
    FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin
    Oct. 14, 2008 | Vol. 5 No. 201
    Wyeth intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court that allows a preemption case against Wyeth vaccines containing thimerosal to proceed. The Georgia court’s decision affirms a lower court’s judgment that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act does not preempt all design-defect claims. The suit alleges that vaccines made with the preservative, which contains mercury, caused neurological damage. The company says the Georgia court’s ruling is directly contrary to provisions in the Vaccine Act.

    If this appeal is filed with the Supreme Court and is heard–a decision either way could be a big deal, IMO.