Vaccine makers protected from lawsuits
The US Supreme Court recently ruled that children injured as a result of a bad reaction to a vaccine cannot recover for their injuries other than as permitted by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, US Supp. Ct. No. 09-152, decided February 22, 2011.
The Court noted that the NCVIA created a no-fault compensation program to stabilize a vaccine market adversely affected by an increase in vaccine-related tort litigation and to facilitate compensation to claimants who found pursuing legitimate vaccine-inflicted injuries too costly and difficult. The Act provides that a party alleging a vaccine-related injury may file a petition for compensation in the Court of Federal Claims, naming the Health and Human Services Secretary as the respondent; that the court must resolve the case by a specified deadline; and that the claimant can then decide whether to accept the court’s judgment or reject it and seek tort relief from the vaccine manufacturer. Awards are paid out of a fund created by an excise tax on each vaccine dose. As a quid pro quo, manufacturers enjoy significant tort-liability protections, including no manufacturer liability for a vaccine’s unavoidable adverse side effects. In short, the Court ruled that the NCVIA preempts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs seeking compensation for injury or death caused by a vaccine’s side effects.
This ruling is a “win” for vaccine makers, yet the door is left open for people who have suffered a vaccine related injury to recover damages. Our office has handled vaccine related injury matters. If you have a doctor who has advised you that you or a family member has suffered a vaccine related injury, please do not hesitate to contact us.