The US Supreme Court has agreed to determine whether a federal law protects vaccine manufacturers from certain kinds of products liability lawsuits in the event of vaccine injuries. The case involves 17-year-old Hannah Bruesewitz who, during the first 6-months after she was born was vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis with 3 DPT vaccines. She would go on develop residual seizure disorder.
Because Hannah suffers from serious developmental impairments, her parents say that she will require a lifetime of care.
Russell and Robale Bruesewitz submitted their petition to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. When their claim was turned down, they filed a dangerous drug lawsuit against vaccine maker Wyeth. They claim that the pharmaceutical company could have marketed a vaccine that was safer and included better warnings about its possible risks. The drug maker has denied that its vaccine caused the girl’s injuries. It has, however, discontinued the DPT vaccine.
In 2009, an appeals court determined that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 preempted the Bruesewitz’s injuries to a child complaint. The act, which provides compensation for vaccine injuries, protects vaccine manufacturers from products liability complaints. An injured party cannot sue the vaccine maker if the side effects that were sustained were unavoidable and even if the vaccine came with the correct directions and warnings and was manufactured properly.
Oral arguments in the Supreme Court case, Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 09-152, will likely take place in the fall. The nation’s highest court agreed to hear the case following decisions by lower courts that conflicted with one another. Some 5,000 claims are pending that link neurological damage to childhood vaccines.
High Court Wades Into Funeral Protests, Vaccines, Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2010
Court to decide if vaccine makers can be sued, Reuters, March 8, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), HRSA.gov
Injuries to Children
Contact our Washington DC injuries to children attorneys if you believe that your son or daughter was hurt, died, or got sick because another party was negligent.