Concern Grows in the British Media About Swine Flu Vaccine
UK H1N1 Virus News

The Cedillo Appeal – Justice Delayed

Kent legal By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

There’s an old story about how people act when they’ve made up their mind and don’t want it changed.  A guy goes to his neighbor’s house and asks to borrow his lawnmower.  The neighbor says he’s really sorry but he lent it to his cousin.  The guy replies he just saw the lawnmower in the neighbor’s garage as he was walking over.  The neighbor responds, “What does the reason matter?  I’m not going to let you borrow my lawnmower anyway.” 

Reading the decision in the Cedillo appeal gives me a greater appreciation of that story. It doesn't seem to matter what's presented, the Special Masters are still going to deny any connection between vaccines and autism.

The Cedillo case depended a great deal of the identification of the measles virus discovered in an intestinal biopsy taken from Michelle Cedillo and analyzed by the Unigenetics Laboratory of Dr. John O’Leary.  The court agreed that “the general reputations of Unigenetics and Dr. O’Leary are good.” (P. 11) It also agreed that the reliability of the Unigenetics Laboratory was “the single-most critical issue in the case.” (P. 10)

There was discussion of other studies, namely the Uhlmann study which supported the finding of a measles infection in the guts of children with autism, and the Afzal and Souza studies which did not support those findings.  The main criticism of the Uhlmann study by the Souza group was the contention that they used primers which were not specific to positively identify the measles virus and mistakenly identified human genetic material as the measles virus.  There were other criticisms of the Unigenetics findings, raising questions of DNA contamination and reliability.

In a legal case each side will generally say that the other side’s evidence is not reliable.  It’s to be expected. 

On the issue of DNA contamination, though, the testimony was pretty clear that DNA contamination is an issue only if there are relatively low numbers of the virus detected.  Michelle Cedillo’s test results showed high levels of the measles virus, and thus even from the testimony, should not be something cited by the Special Masters in their review.  On the issue of reliability, it’s curious that while the court admits that the general reputation of the lab and Dr. O’Leary are good, they unaccountably failed in this instance.  (Author's note - The U.S. government later hired Dr. John O'Leary to set up two labs for the Hornig/Lipkin study on the prevalence of the measles virus in the guts of children with autism.  Amazing how one day the government is trying to destroy your reputation and soliciting your help on another.)

But the expert witnesses for the Cedillos also had their opinions on the Afzal and Souza studies. (The Afzal and Souza studies went against the claim that the measles virus was related to autism.)  They noted that those studies relied on red blood cells rather than a gut biopsy for running their tests.  The Cedillo experts claimed that the measles virus wasn’t replicating in blood cells, only in those areas like the gut and the brain, causing both the digestive and cognitive problems.  But doing intestinal biopsies on children with autism is one of the very procedures which got Dr. Andrew Wakefield in such trouble, resulting in claims he was performing unnecessary procedures.

And this is where the independent judgment of the court is supposed to come in.  One side says you didn’t perform the tests the way you should.  That's fair game and deserves to be explored.  The other side says, you can’t find the measles virus in the red blood cells of affected children, only in the gut which you can biopsy, or the brain, which short of an autopsy, is exceedingly difficult.  You should consider that claim as well.

But that didn't happen in the Cedillo case.  The Special Masters accepted one side, and paid no attention to the other.  I acknowledge these are confusing issues, but where's the evidence disputing the claim that measles virus is not present in red blood cells, but only affected organs?  The Court acted as if these issues weren’t even worthy of consideration.  And if Dr. O'Leary's lab was so incompetent in detecting the measles virus, why did our own government later hire him to set up two such labs?

A similar narrowness of vision was present in other parts of the decision.  The third criterion to be satisfied to obtain recovery is a “proximate temporal relationship between vaccination and injury.”  The medical records for Michelle Cedillo are actually quite compelling in establishing a short time period between her vaccinations and the development of her problems.

“A May 2, 1997 letter from an Arizona neurologist, Dr. William Masland, deserves particular mention.  After examining Michelle Cedillo on May 2, 1997, Dr. Masland noted that Michelle lost her speaking ability after her post-MMR fever episodes.  He further stated ‘it would appear that there was some neurological harm done at the time of the fevers.’  He added, ‘whether this was a post-immunization phenomenon or a separate occurrence, would be very difficult to say.’  The Special Master concluded that Dr. Masland’s letter, at most, speculated as to whether the MMR vaccine was causing Michelle’s neurologic abnormality and did not constitute an opinion that the MMR vaccine caused Michelle’s autism.” (P. 20-21)

This last sentence turns the standard for recovery on its head.  It wasn’t the role of the neurologist to say the MMR vaccine caused Michelle’s autism!  He was acting as a physician, an independent observer, noting the timing of various occurrences and his own opinion.  Since the linking of vaccines to autism is probably the most contentious issue in medicine today, it seems as if he was being cautious, but thorough.  The decision as to whether vaccines are linked to autism rightfully belongs to either a court, or medical research done pre and post vaccination for children who are normally developing and those with autism. 

How can the court claim it was the place of the examining neurologist to assert this was definitely a vaccine injury?  That would have been too great a presumption for him to make. He was merely preserving a record, not settling the most controversial issue in medicine.  If he had said the MMR shot definitely caused Michelle Cedillo's autism I have little doubt the Special Masters would have thrown out his report as being without proper foundation.

As an attorney I can't overstate the importance of the impartiality of the court in determining the truth of a claim.  There's nothing more corrosive to a society than  injustices which are allowed to continue.  It's little surprise that many protesters who feel themselves to the be the victims of injustice carry signs which read, "No justice, no peace!"  Injustice tears at the very fabric of society.

I know this will be disputed by some, but the fault in Cedillo wasn’t with the evidence, or the way the attorneys presented the case.  The fault was with the Special Masters and may lie in a prejudice that even they don’t fully appreciate.

Like the neighbor who doesn’t want to part with his lawnmower the Special Masters don’t want to acknowledge that vaccines may be linked to a condition which in twenty-five years has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100.  It doesn’t matter what we present to them.  That lawnmower will still stay in the garage.

If there's any good to be found in the denial of the Cedillo appeal and others it's that there's no longer any need to remain in Vaccine Court.  The claims can now move into the civil trial system with more favorable rules of discovery and evidence.  I know the attorneys and their families must be both financially and emotionally exhausted but I strongly urge this effort to continue.

I believe a change in neighbors, from the Vaccine Court to the regular civil trial system, can bring us our long-sought justice.  It's what the pharmaceutical companies have been dreading for more than 20 years.  They created the Vaccine Court to keep us out of civil court.

It is now within the power of those representing these cases to make the worst nightmares of the pharmaceutical companies come true.

The full text of the opinion is HERE.

Kent Heckenlively is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism



This is a travesty of justice. The Hornig study specifically chose 25 children who were diagnosed with Autism at 13 month, before the MMR vaccine. If they truly want to see if there is an association of MMR and autism, they should pick kids with autism, GI problem who developed these symptoms after the MMR shots and do biopsy them.

John Stone


F Edward Yazbak 'CDC-sponsored MMR study supports Wakefield’s findings'

John Stone

The Hornig study last year confused rather than resolved the issue. The discussion conflicts with the conclusion:

"Our results differ with reports noting MV RNA in ileal biopsies of 75% of ASD vs. 6% of control children [10], [41]. Discrepancies are unlikely to represent differences in experimental technique because similar primer and probe sequences, cycling conditions and instruments were employed in this and earlier reports; furthermore, one of the three laboratories participating in this study performed the assays described in earlier reports. Other factors to consider include differences in patient age, sex, origin (Europe vs. North America), GI disease, recency of MMR vaccine administration at time of biopsy, and methods for confirming neuropsychiatric status in cases and controls."

The new study found persistent measles virus in the ileum of two cases (one autistic, one control, but both with bowel disease)confirmed across 3 labs, which seems to support the plausibility of the hypothesis. The design selection method for the Hornig study, was however, puzzling and opaque - and the was "lack of association" not "no association".

It strikes me, however, that all this was putting an unfair burden of proof on the complainants. They should only have reasonably had to establish that there had been an injury not every aspect of its mechanism.


My hope is that someone will file a lawsuit addressing the unConstitutionality of the NVICP. Even if the original intent of the legislation were to make thing easier for vaccine-injured children (and I doubt that all of its supporters felt that way), the system that this legislation created is inherently unequal, and thus (I dare anyone to prove otherwise) unConstitutional. Imagine a separate court system for black plaintiffs, gay plaintiffs, Catholic plaintiffs, etc. We would never stand for it--nor should we stand for the injustice that is happening now.

Kent Heckenlively


I disregard what the Special Masters say in their disregard of high copy numbers because of the testimony. The high copy numbers are indicators that the reading is accurate. I understand an argument was made that high copy numbers were not necessarily relevant, but even the expert witnesses for the government generally seemed to be against it. In some testimony which ended up not being used by the court, even Zimmerman said that if there were high copy numbers it was indicative of the fact that the reading was accurate.

As for the O'Leary study which did not support the Uhlmann study, it's one of those things that can cut both ways. If O'Leary was so good at detecting the measles virus in the study which attempted to replicate Uhlmann, shouldn't his finding of the measles virus in Michelle Cedillo been found to be credible? And also in the O'Leary study (a relatively small numbers of kids, I think somewhere in the 20s) they did find the measles virus in 1 of the autistic kids, and 1 of the control group with digestive problems, at all three labs. This would seem to indicate to me that the measles virus is present in some kids with digestive problems, whether or not they have autism.

From the testimony as I recall, the presence of the measles virus several years post vaccination is a sign that something is really wrong in the immune system of a child.

I hope that answers your questions.

All the best,
Kent Heckenlively


I am curious as to why you disregard the reason why the special master did not include the "high copy number" argument made by the Cedillos. Mainly, that the high copy number was meaningless in light of the fact that the measles virus copy was taken as a ratio with a housekeeping gene, and that if the housekeeping gene detection was low, that would result in a "high copy number" of measles virus, regardless of its source.

Also, I am curious as to how you respond to the O'Leary Labs paper published last year, showing that they were unable to replicate the results of the Uhlmann study.

Autism Grandma

I am reminded of a cartoon that I saw when I was failing miserably in my own chemical injury lawsuit:

It is a picture of the defendants attorney standing before the judge:

"Your Honor, we need more time to prepare to make a mockery of the Law."

Autism Grandma

Hi Kent,

I always love reading your articles, even when this kind of information is disheartening. Someday I hope that I will be able to meet some of you amazing people at Age of Autism.

I opened my Bible last night and landed on this scripture:

"'How long will you keep judging with injustice and showing partiality to the wicked themselves?

Be judges for the lowly ones and the fatherless boy. To the afflicted one and the one of little means do justice.

Provide escape for the lowly one and the poor one; Out of the hands of the wicked ones deliver them.'

They have not known and they do not understand; In darkness they keep walking about...

'Surely you will die just as men do; And like any one of the princes you will fall!'"

Psalms 82:2-7

Hilary Butler

There were many who predicted verbally and in writing to the "bill sponsors" in January 1984, after seeing the draft of S.2117 which was published in May 3, 1984, ... (and later in submissions to Senate)that the USA vaccine injury law would be an unmitigated disaster for USA children.

President Reagan certainly did not support it, and neither did many of the other senators who subsequently voted for it.

Only one vaccine manufacturer supported the bill.

USA became the owner of a totally iniquitious legislation solely due to a very carefully orchestrated public campaign through the media.

The details of that campaign comprise most of Volume 3, number 1, of the Spring 1987 DPT News. A particularly poingnant heading on page 5 reads, "You make the Difference!" with a comment... 'we should thank each other and take pride in what, together, we have accomplished on behalf of American children during the past year."

What was accomplished? The breathing back of life back into vaccine manufacturers wallet, and a radical increase the numbers of children whose parents allege vaccines caused chronic illnesses.

The ultimate legacy of what has always been terrible legislation, is the lengths to which the Cedillo's must now go, in order to have their case accurately heard.

Tort legislation is where all vaccine cases should have been heard for the last 23 years.

The question is, what are Americans going to do about NCVIC now? Continue along the failed path of the past?

My warning to green-the-vaccines campaigners, is that "running with the hares and hunting with the hounds" will always result in betrayal of the most vulnerable.

Suzanne Thomason

The followup does not take into account the theory that the immunizing (attenuated) measles vaccine is the culprit. The trivalent vaccine is a much larger dose than pre-combination. Also, the virus is introduced into the population frequently. Mothers are not likely to provide adequate passive immunity. Most of the children with autism that I work with have a typical sibling two to three years older than them. I maintain that in utero exposure (from the sibling immunization) gave the fetus a non-lethal exposure that rendered their immune system incapable of recognizing the subsequent vaccine as foreign and welcoming it to colonize in their body. The leaky gut, malnutrition, symptoms of manutrition and neurological involvment are subsequent to the colonization.

Heidi N

Isn't the Special Masters a paid jury? Sadly, human nature is to uphold the opinions of those who feed you. We will never have, and I don't even see how one could expect to have, a just system when it has been set-up biased. We have to make systamatic changes, then the other problems will solve themselves. There is a reason the Consititution says "jury of your peers". The forefathers already had experience with paid jurors.

michael framson

Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice Everyehere"

The vaccine court operates on the very fringe of the perception of justice. Until there are sit ins at IACC meetings and other peaceful acts of disobedience, there is unlikely to be justice or progress.

Cedillo, Snyder, and Hazlehurst had vaccination bombs thrown at them by a pharmaceutical/doctor clansmen.

The vapor of justice that escapes out of this vaccine court can not be seen as "true" justice. Until people are held accountable and laws change which protect those that do harm, we are all riding in the back of the bus of medical injustice.


Richard said about Pharma: "losses of huge amounts of money is all they seem to understand. The lives and suffering of children mean nothing to the them." Alas, how very true.

Theresa Cedillo said, "We're not going away and this is definitely not over." Good for you, Theresa and family!! It must take incredible stamina and be financially draining. Thank you for fighting on behalf of Michelle and all vaccine injured children. Fight to the finish!

These Special Masters are a disgrace to their proffession. They have turned law and science upside down. They have changed the vaccine court from what it was intended to be -- an avenue for injured children to receive benefits -- into a blind defense mechanism, a stone wall.


Kent, thanks for raising the issue of whether the Cedillos and other families with vaccine injury claims have a right to be heard in civil court, rather than the alternate system set up by the NVICP. I think I remember reading somewhere that there is no such thing as "separate but equal."

It's kind of amazing what the government can deny when it stands to lose face (and money). Like Howard Strickler and the CDC, the only two entities who still believe SV-40 does not cause mesothelioma ( despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary. Nope, they think that the SV-40 detected in tumors by numerous researchers is the result of lab contamination...


Great analysis and analogy, Kent. The Cedillo, Snyder and Hazlehurst families deserve so much better from the NVICP system their children's shots helped fund.

Gee, I wish that I could issue legal rulings that would stave off a huge potential increase in my workload....

John Stone

"Justice delayed", as the saying goes, is "justice denied". In what Shakespeare called a "wholesome weal" (I quote from memory from King Lear) it (a) wouldn't have happened or (b) would have been acknowledged without recourse to law.

What kind of law requires the victim to prove their has been a crime?

Heartfelt thoughts with Michelle and her family.


I always suspected the vaccine court was set up as a way to control justice now I know it for a fact. The huge money that will have to be paid out in a civil trial victory is the only way to teach pharma a lesson, since losses of huge amounts of money is all they seem to understand. The lives and suffering of children mean nothing to the them.

Cherry Sperlin Misra

Little sacrificial lamb Michelle could have been the catalyst that saved the minds and lives of children the world over, but justice, reason, and science have been trampled under the shiny leather shoes of the special masters, who refused even to adhere to their own Vaccine Court standards.
Dear Cedillo family, thank you for trying. Kent, Thank you for the call to battle.


I'm just appalled for the Cedillos and the Hazelhursts. If there's no justice here, there's no justice anywhere. We have to protest this decision. I hope a march is planned or something because I know I'm not alone in being pent up and fed up.

Dick Armey's got his lobby agents out there howling about healthcare and "fascism" but-- because he was the author of the the Lilly Rider-- those FreedomWorks astroturfers will never mention our really legitimate concerns about medical injustice. This is real thunder and it's being ignored.

Kathy Blanco

if it was a CLIA certified lab, they can't question it?

Theresa Cedillo

Excellent Kent. Very thorough and powerful. We're not going away and this is definitely not over.

Theodore Van Oosbree

It is an axiom that government monitors eventually serve the institutions they were created to police rather than the general interest. This is no exception.

Benedetta Stilwell

Yeah, if I did not know how the federal government ran the vaccine court I would have perhaps trusted more and accepted a government run health program. BUT I know how they work, almost all the entire nation understands!

My son reacted 6 hours after his vaccine, and at that time there was no lawyer to be found that wanted to take on the federal government. I asked for the rules put out by the federal government; that stated how they determined a vaccine injury. My son had a stroke event within hours of the vaccine, but the government wanted two separate grand mal events within a year --Which my son did have too! But the rules said the fever could not be over 102.(I may not remember that right) but my son's was 103. That is the way the federal government works in EVERY THING, and EVERY ASPECT! They act like they are reasonable, but just move it a little to the left or a little to the right.

david troutman

Delay Delay Delay,It,s all they have left. I feel sorry for the score of kids and parents, that will join our, not so small, group.Discovery Discovery Disvovery,once we have a chance to use it they will all fall.


"Vaccine Court" is THE major reason I get a chill up my spine every time I hear the words "tort reform."

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)