By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
I am grateful that Theresa Cedillo e-mailed me a few days ago to inform me of the latest Autism Update for the Autism Omnibus Proceeding.
As we get ready for the next round of hearings, scheduled to begin on May 12, 2008 and proceed until May 30 I thought I’d recap what has happened up to this point and what is anticipated in the next few weeks.
Three different theories of causation are being presented by the Petitioners Steering Committee in regards to vaccines and autism. The first theory is that the MMR vaccine in combination with thimerosal can cause autism. The second is that thimerosal alone can cause autism. The third theory is that the MMR vaccine alone can cause autism.
Each theory will be presented in the framework of three test cases, designed to establish general guidelines in the event it’s found that vaccines contribute to autism. This makes for a total of nine test cases.
The first three test cases, Cedillo, Hazlehurst, and Snyder were presented from June to November of 2008. No verdict has yet been rendered in any of these cases.
The Special Masters appear to be ready to issue rulings in these three cases, but are awaiting additional documents from England which were developed in the course of a planned proceeding to address the issue of whether the MMR vaccine causes autism. That case never proceeded to a hearing. It appears the Petitioners Steering Committee is having difficulty getting the experts who supported the petitioner’s theory to release their reports.
The second group of three cases (which was originally supposed to include Hannah Poling) was designated and they included, Mead, Krakow, and King.
However, in light of the government’s concession that vaccines in combination with an underlying mitochondrial disorder caused Hannah’s autism, the Krakow case has been withdrawn as this child demonstrated many of the same abnormal metabolic markers. This was covered in David Kirby's excellent article The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker: Not Isolated, Not Unusual which appeared in the Huffington Post on April 27, 2008. (This may mean a much quicker verdict for the Krakow family and we wish them the best.)
As a result, the May hearings will include only Mead and King, with a third case to be designated later and presented.
The May hearing in Washington D.C. will be completely open to the public and held in the largest courtroom the parties could secure, Courtroom 402 of the National Courts Building. The courtroom holds approximately 100 people and is located at 717 Madison Place, N.W., Washington D.C. 20005.
The third group of test cases have not been individually designated, but is currently scheduled to begin testimony on September 15, 2008.
Hannah Poling was the first victory, and it appears the Krakows may win round two. If we get victories in Cedillo, Hazlehurst, and Snyder as well this rumble quickly becomes a knock-out.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.