By Anne Dachel
Louis Conte, father of triplets, two of whom have autism, and has been involved in special courts for 30 years. His most recent endeavor has been co-authoring Unanswered Questions A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury. Louis discussed this paper as well as the recent news that Congressman Darrell Issa has cancelled / postponed the upcoming hearing into the NVICP.
Louis gave the history of the Vaccine Compensation Program, dating from 1986 when it was created. It was supposed to be "fair, compassionate and quick."
He found out about 1,300 vaccine injury cases that involved brain injury. He wanted to know how many of these brain injured kids had an autism diagnosis.
Louis Conte on the VICP: When you have "features of autism, you have autism."
He recounted that autism has been recognized as a feature of vaccine injury "from the first days of the program." There is this "word smithing" going on where the court acknowledges that the vaccine caused a brain injury, an encephalopathy, "we understand that a consequence of that brain injury is autism, however, the vaccine didn't cause autism."
The truth is, "but for this injury, this child wouldn't have autism."
'In looking at these cases in the program, it becomes crystal clear after a while, that it was accepted and understood within the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that a feature of brain damage commonly was autism."
Louis talked about the compensated cases where "a child suffered an immediate reaction to say, the DTP vaccine within really a few hours, sometimes within a few minutes, in a close proximity to the vaccination, the child suffers a seizure, there's a traumatic event. The child is rushed to the emergency room. There's all sorts of documentation in cases like this. And the child is clearly vaccine injured. To be clear, it's not that the child is immediately vaccine injured and becomes autistic that minute.
"What happens classically in these cases is that the child becomes really sick. . . . There's seizures in the picture typically. Sometimes the child is darn near killed. Now it's months and years later, and the matter is in front of a special master. The special master says right now the child is developmentally disabled, has autism or autism features and is eligible for compensation based on having met the table of requirements that the program has set.
"When you read these cases, there's no doubt. There's no doubt. They're clear. What needs to be understood . . . if one child suffered a vaccine reaction and came down with autism, then we know the answer to the question, do vaccines cause autism? It's crystal clear and that's understood. . . . "
Louis went on to talk about the thousands of claim that were filed citing autism as a result of vaccine injury and the creation of the Omnibus Autism Proceedings in which certain test cases would decide the fate of all the other autism claims. This made no sense since for years the Vaccine Court had been compensating cases of vaccine injury that included autism.
He described how the Vaccine Court functions. "First of all, the cases are not tried in an open courtroom, so there's no public record of what's gone on. . . . Everything is administrative. Everything is in the backroom. So no one ever really got the whole picture in front of them. However there were people who know this and understood this. And those people worked in a little operation known as the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation. This is a subdivision of Health and Human Services...that had the job of assessing this cases and sometimes settling them out."
Louis was adamant, "We found 21 case decisions that laid out autism quite clearly. There were however 60 other cases where . . . the government conceded without going for a hearing, in other words, without contesting it."
Louis explained how he had done his research, how they'd filed FOIA requests for information on the cases of vaccine injury that had been compensated by the government. The government replied that they could get "redacted information five years from now. It would cost $750,000 to get this information."
These investigators then had to glean as much information from public records and call families on the phone. Incredibly, of the total number of compensated cases, 196, they were able to reach, roughly half of the victims of vaccine injury, or 83 children, had autism,
"The reports were not just the parent saying, yeah, my kid has autism. There was some structure to this. If the parent did not use the word autism, we did not count the case. . . . We felt we should respect the wishes of the parent. How the parent describes their kid, was to be respected, no matter what. Those were the rules. We protected identities. The interviews were done in a structured fashion. If a parent didn't want to participate, they didn't have to. In many instances, the parents provided us with medical information, critical information supporting their claim that their child has autism. So this is not just we called a bunch of people and the parents said, yeah, yeah, yeah, my child has autism. There was medical documentation, there was a clear structure to this, which is why this was published in a peer reviewed law journal. . . . And to this day, no one from the federal government has denied our findings. They criticized us for not doing good science, which I find to be laughable. We published in a law journal. . . . We didn't do any science. What we did was common sense.. . ."
"And so at the end of the day you come to the conclusion that the federal government knowingly compensated children. The folks in the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation . . . understood that brain damage as a result of vaccine injury often features autism. They then however constructed the Autism Omnibus Proceedings to determine if vaccines cause autism."
"The program was supposed to be fair, compassionate, swift. . . .
"What I encountered . . . was several parents who were really offended that the government didn't disclose this information to everybody. This information is not the property of the pharmaceutical industry, it is not the property of a government agency. Taxpayer fund the Injury Compensation Program. This information belongs to us and if vaccine injury has been triggering autism, that is information that should have been publicly discussed, publicly announced, so that researchers could begin to get their arms around this. Instead, this information has been withheld. It was withheld from the five thousand litigants. . . . When you read the mission statement of the Department of Health and Human Services, it says that our job is to take care of the nation's health, particularly those who are least able to take care of themselves."
Next Louis and Curt discussed the cancellation of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing on the NVIC.
"We published a paper. The name of our paper is Unanswered Questions from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a review of compensated cases of brain injury. It's in the Pace Environmental Law Review in May, 2011. . . . We asked for certain things at the end of the day, really two things. The first thing we wanted was an independent assessment of the health outcomes of all of the people the federal government has compensated for vaccine injury. In other words, let's finally get our arms around what vaccine injury looks like, because there's a population of people here who the federal government has compensated for vaccine injury--it's not me saying they're vaccine injured. It's not their parents. It's the federal government saying we believe these people to be vaccine injured because they met the requirements of the compensation program and we're paying them. What do they look like? How many have autism? How many have seizures? How many have other disorders? How many have demyelinating disorders? How many of them have MS? How many of them have died? What is the present health outcome now? All this sort of information that again belongs to the American people, not the government. That was the first thing we asked for.
"The second thing we asked, we felt Congress, which had established this program in 1986, ought to have a hearing and bring people in and explain what's going on here. . . . The name of our paper is Unanswered Questions and we want some of those questions answered. Congress is the only venue to do that. There were a series of hearings held over the last several months, I met with Darrell Issa, other people met with Darrell Issa, members of the Canary Party, Dr. Brian Hooker, Robert Krakow, Mary Holland, We all met with Darrell Issa at different times. Congressman Issa wanted to focus on the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. A lot of this was generated by what our paper found. A lot of this was generated by young ladies injured by Gardasil. So it wasn't just the autism community. . . . "
Louis then brought up the Autism Omnibus Proceedings and the case that was pulled out of those cases. "'Child Doe 77' (Hannah P.) was pulled out and settled. . . . That one case was to be a test case. And the government pulled that child's case out and compensated the child on the side. One gathers from what occurred, in the press clippings . . . that that child was to be compensated quietly as all the other cases had been quietly compensated over the years. However, information leaked out--I don't know how. . . .
"So the Omnibus Proceeding begin with pulling a case out and saying, we concede this case. . . . and then the Omnibus Proceedings run their course and the Special Masters issue these scathing rulings [on the test cases] . . . and so this is what we want Congress to look at. Darrell Issa was willing to do it. . . . "
Louis talked about Darrell Issa: "Having looked in Darrell Issa's eyes, there was one reason he wanted to do it and that was I think he understood something really wrong had happened here. . .
"Having spoken to enough people, he become to be really concerned about this. . . .
"I think he was concerned if we're going to have a program of vaccination, that you have to take care of the injured."
"We need to remember, you can not sure a vaccine manufacturer for their product. If you feel a vaccine injured you or your child or a family member, you cannot sue the manufacturer. You have to go through this program. This is the only venue. . . .
Curt Linderman then talked about his child being vaccine injured. "I had one of those children that were almost immediately injured by the vaccines. It was within . .. a four hour period where my son had the damage done to him. . . ." Curt described how they spent three years being told by doctors that vaccines couldn't have done this. They didn't find out about the compensation program until after the statute of limitations had run out on filing an injury claim.
Louis: "You have to file within three years of the onset of injury." He talked about the fact that few parents know about the program.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.