AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP. et al. v. FERRARI et al

Supreme Court of Georgia

Decided: October 6, 2008

AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP. et al. v. FERRARI et al

 

Summary

AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP. ET AL. V. FERRARI ET AL. (S07G1708)

 

 
Attorneys for Appellants (Manufacturers): Lowell Fine, Leslie Suson, Robert Hays, Matthew Harman
Attorney for Appellees (Ferraris): Lanny Bridgers

 

The state Supreme Court has upheld a decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals and ruled in favor of a Fulton County couple who sued several vaccine manufacturers for damage done to their toddler by childhood vaccinations. In today‟s landmark decision, written by Justice George Carley , the high court has unanimously affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment, which was the first appeals court in the nation to decide that the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act does not preempt state law permitting such lawsuits. At issue is the language of the federal law, which states that vaccine manufacturers cannot be held liable for vaccine-related injuries or deaths “if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.” The case was brought by Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari, after they took their son Stefan, born in 1998, to get his early childhood vaccinations. Prior to being vaccinated, his parents claim, Stefan was a healthy verbal toddler. Subsequently, he stopped speaking and has not spoken since. The Ferraris sued several vaccine manufacturers, including American Home Products Corp., alleging that their son suffered neurological damage caused by vaccines containing thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative. The trial court ruled in favor of the vaccine manufacturers, ruling that the Ferraris‟ design defect claims were preempted by the national Vaccine Act. The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the decision and ruled in the Ferraris‟ favor, calling the federal law unclear and capable of being read two different ways. 2 In reaching today‟s decision, the Supreme Court has carefully reviewed the law and congressional intent in determining that the Vaccine Act “clearly does not preempt all design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers.” Rather the law only protects the manufacturers from liability if it is determined, on a case by case basis, that the vaccine‟s side effects were unavoidable. In this case, the Ferraris argued that their son‟s injuries could have been avoided if the manufacturers had not used thimerosol in their vaccines. Even if the language of the federal law is ambiguous, today‟s 19-page opinion says, “the legislative history hardly shows a „clear and manifest‟ congressional purpose to supplant state tort law with respect to claims of defective design.

Attorneys for Appellants (Manufacturers): Lowell Fine, Leslie Suson, Robert Hays, Matthew Harman

Attorney for Appellees (Ferraris): Lanny Bridgers

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: