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Major media aren’t giving this story the coverage it deserves. I certainly am.
Short question: Can a person sue a US vaccine manufacturer?
Short answer: Under certain conditions, yes.
Note: I’m not framing this article as professional legal advice. I’m reporting what I’ve been able to dig up on a very explosive issue so far. I’ve communicated with two lawyers and a law professor. I’ve been pointed to an important passage on a federal web page.
Right now, lawyers and their clients are suing Merck, the manufacturer, for injuries incurred from Merck’s shingles vaccine, Zostavax.
Among the claimed injuries: contracting shingles; blindness in one eye; partial paralysis; brain damage; death.
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys told me he has already filed two cases in California. Each case has 50 plaintiffs. He states he has 5000 clients waiting in the wings. There are other attorneys with other plaintiffs.
But wait. Isn’t there a federal law that bars people from suing vaccine manufacturers?
Isn’t that law the 1986 Childhood Vaccine Injury Act? Doesn’t it demand that people go to a special federal “vaccine tribunal/court” and plead for compensation from the government?
Aren’t vaccine manufacturers shielded from liability for causing injury?
Well, it turns out there are exceptions to the rule.
Adult vaccines are not part of the 1986 federal law.
The law shielding vaccine companies only applies to childhood vaccines.
The Merck shingles vaccine is only for adults.
The special federal “vaccine tribunal/court” is established as part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). This is where parents who claim their children were injured by vaccines must go, to ask for compensation from the government—not from vaccine manufacturers.
But on a web page of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, under “Health Resources and Services Administration,” we see “Frequently Asked Questions.” And we read this rather opaque statement:
“In order for a category of vaccines to be covered, the category of vaccines must be recommended for routine administration to children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” [Note: On this clumsy FAQ web page, you have to click on “View Answer” under the following question to see it: “If a new vaccine product is licensed, what needs to occur before the vaccine will be covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)?”]
What does “covered” mean? It means “covered exclusively by the federal compensation program.” It means a parent who believes her child has been injured by a vaccine goes to the special federal “court.” The vaccine must be FOR CHILDREN. However, an adult seeking compensation for vaccine injury, FROM AN ADULT VACCCINE, would, with a lawyer, argue his case in ordinary state or federal court. That adult would sue the vaccine manufacturer.
This message from the federal government is clear. The ban against suing vaccine manufacturers only applies to vaccines recommended for children (and pregnant women). The ban does not apply to adult vaccines.
Naturally, adults are going to be interested in seeing a list of adult vaccines, because in the case of vaccine-injury, these people can and must go to ordinary state or federal courts and sue the vaccine manufacturer. And they can sue for punitive damages. This is what scares vaccine manufacturers. Punitive-damage money can soar into the stratosphere.
Here, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the list of adult vaccines: Influenza; Td/Tdap; MMR; VAR; HZV (shingles); HPV Female; HPV male; PCV13; PPSV23; HepA; HepB; MENACWY/MPSV4; MenB; Hib.
However, some of the vaccines on this list are recommended for both adults and children. When a vaccine is recommended by the CDC for both adults and children, adults seeking compensation for vaccine-injury would not be permitted to argue their cases in ordinary courts and sue the manufacturer. Instead, they would have to go to the special federal vaccine “court” and try to obtain compensation from the government.
It will be very important to see what happens as these lawsuits against Merck and their shingles vaccine move forward. Many tactics will be deployed. Right now, in one suit filed in Philadelphia, Merck is arguing for a change of venue. Change of venue often signals an attempt to find a more friendly court.
We’re in the beginning stages of a struggle.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have high hurdles to climb. Among them: causation. How do you prove a vaccine “caused” an injury? I’m not talking about truth, common sense, or even conventional medical standards. I’m talking about legal proofs, and what is admissible in court. That territory is a Twilight Zone of complexity.
Read original article here