A sweeping decision has recently been reached in a United States Federal appeals court, where parents whose children are harmed or killed by defective vaccines cannot sue the manufacturer for damages in a State Court.
Instead they must go through a process where their claim is evaluated by a no fault national tribunal for vaccine injuries. This was the ruling that was handed down by the Ninth U.S. Circuit court of Appeals, which upheld the dismissal of a suit by a Las Vegas son whose baby suffered seizures and died after an immunization shot.
Nine days after the Holmes’ 1-year-old son, Jacob, was given a vaccine, manufactured by Merck & Co., for measles, mumps and rubella, he started suffering seizures and brain disorders known as encephalopathies. He died six months later, in October 2002.
The dismissal was based on a Federal Law established in 1986 which established a vaccine court where those who claimed injuries from vaccination must file their claims. If a hearing officer determined that the harm was consistent with the vaccine’s known side effects, the victim would be awarded compensation without having to prove that the manufacturer caused the harm or acted negligently.
The law protects vaccine makers who allegedly comply with the Food and Drug Administration requirements for product ingredients and labeling and prevent parents and victims from claiming damages by the victim or by the heirs of the victim who died.
In this case, the child’s estate received $250,000, the maximum award for a vaccine-related death, but far less than the damages typically awarded to heirs in a wrongful-death suit. Lawyers for the parents argued that the law did not apply to them, because only the child or his estate – not his heirs – can file claims in the vaccine court, but the Ninth Circuit Court disagreed.
Two federal lawsuits filed against Merck in the United States, one on the 25thof June 2012, and one in 2010 revealed allegations that for a decade, Merck may have knowingly made and marketed a mumps vaccine that was “far less effective” than it told federal regulators.
According to the Courthouse News, Chathom Primary Care in Chathom, Alabama, filed a federal antitrust class action against Merck after learning about a False Claims Act complaint brought against the drug maker by two former Merck virologists familiar with the company’s vaccine development. In that complaint, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski allege that Merck “knowingly falsified its mumps vaccine test data, spiked blood samples with animal antibodies, and sold a vaccine that actually promoted mumps and measles outbreaks.”
Merck’s fraudulent manufacture and promotion of the mumps vaccine, they charge, caused the U.S. government to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars for a vaccine that does not provide adequate immunization.”
According to the 2010 complaint, the United States was “by far” the largest financial victim of Merck’s fraud because it is the largest single buyer of childhood vaccines in the country. South Africa, similarly obtains a large portion of its measles vaccine stock from Merck.
- Holmes v. Merck(FindLaw’s CaseLaw)
- Can’t Sue Drug Companies for Vaccine Defects Rules Supreme Court(FindLaw’s Decided)
- Parents Say Vaccine Caused Epilepsy in Child, Court Says No(FindLaw’s Federal Circuit Blog)
- Courthouse News Service June 27, 2012 5
- Greenmedinfo.com, Scientists Sue Merck: Allege Fraud for MMR Vaccine, July 4, 2012