Vaccine Injury Court Rulings

“The Supreme Court of Georgia on Monday upheld a state appeals court ruling that could open the door to product liability claims against vaccine manufacturers by the parents of autistic children. Justice George H. Carley wrote for a unanimous court that a Fulton County suit against manufacturers filed by the parents of an autistic child may to go to trial. The justices rejected what Carley described as a “far-reaching interpretation” of a federal vaccine statute that defendant vaccine manufacturers argued gave them sweeping immunity from liability….. Carley specifically focused on Congress’ intent. He wrote that a reading of the federal vaccine act “and the congressional intent behind it show that the Vaccine Act does not pre-empt all design defect claims.” Instead, Carley noted, the federal vaccine law “provides that a vaccine manufacturer cannot be held liable for defective design if it is determined, on a case-by-case basis, that the injurious side effects of the particular vaccine were unavoidable.” But, the judge added, “The conditional nature of this clause contemplates the occurrence of side effects which are avoidable, and for which a vaccine manufacturer may be civilly liable. In order to bar all liability for defective design and to permit liability only for manufacturing and warning defects, Congress could easily have ….. made the bar to civil liability conditional on proper preparations and warnings.” “As the statute is actually written, however,” Carley continued, “it is best understood as barring liability only for those side effects which were unavoidable by means other than proper manufacturing and packaging. Conversely, if such effects were avoidable by a feasible, alternative design, liability is not completely barred.” Neither can federal law nor, by extension, Congress unilaterally pre-empt state causes of actions, Carley said. Instead, the justice noted that the question of whether a particular vaccine is unavoidably unsafe — and therefore subject to immunity from liability — is a question of fact for a jury to decide.” – R. Robin MacDonald, Law.com (October 7, 2008) http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202425070398

“A Missouri appeals court Tuesday upheld an $8.5 million judgment for a St. Louis man who contracted polio after receiving an oral vaccine as a child. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals’ Eastern District also ruled that the vaccine’s manufacturer owed about $2.8 million for prejudgment interest on top of the award because it refused to accept a pretrial settlement offer that was less than the amount awarded by a jury. Cortez Strong contracted polio in June 1987, shortly after receiving a second dose of the vaccine Orimune, which was made by American Cyanamid Co…..Strong sued American Cyanamid and the pediatrician who administered the vaccine. In 2005, a St. Louis jury cleared the doctor of liability but ordered American Cyanamid to pay Strong $1.5 million for pain and suffering, $2 million for future lost earnings and $5 million for future pain and suffering. The company appealed, contending there was insufficient evidence that it was legally liable for Strong’s injuries. The company also sought to have the judgment reduced or set aside or that a new trial be ordered. Strong also appealed, seeking to be allowed to introduce rebuttal evidence against the physician and to have American Cyanamid be ordered to pay interest on the award. The appeals court rejected each request except Strong’s appeal for prejudgment interest. “ – Chris Blank, Associated Press (October 8, 2008)
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081008/mo_polio_award.html?.v=1

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