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Supreme Court protects vaccine maker from parent's lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that pharmaceutical manufacturers cannot bring claims based on injuries arising from vaccines in regular courts. The opinion asserted that the special vaccine court system, created by Congress in 1986, is the exclusive remedy for those seeking recovery for defective or dangerous vaccinations.

Nineteen years ago Hannah Bruesewitz was brought to the doctor's office for a routine six month checkup that included a DPT vaccination. After the vaccination Hannah suffered a series of seizures. The seizures resulted in severe brain damage. This year, in which Hannah would have otherwise been looking forward to her freshman year in college, she instead has the vocabulary of a toddler.

The vaccine protocol that was administered to Hannah also injured 65 other children, according to a story from CBS News. In 1998 it was removed from the market.

Hannah's parents initially filed a claim under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the special vaccine court. The purpose of the program was to promote the policy of vaccinations by shielding manufactures from lawsuits, while allowing injured parties a means to be compensated.

The family's claim for compensation was denied. Next, they filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vaccine claiming that it was defectively designed. But the court ruled that the vaccine court was the only way to receive compensation from injuries caused by vaccines, virtually shutting the court house door on them. Today the Supreme Court upheld that ruling, deciding six to two that their lawsuit was preempted by the vaccine compensation program.

Source: CBS News "Supreme Court rejects vaccine lawsuit" Jan Crawford, February 22, 2011

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