National Autism Association Asks: How Much Longer?
The Age of Autism: Dental Denial

The End of Vaccine Court?

Retro lady justice By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

The recent decision handed down on August 17, 2009 by the U. S. Court of Federal Claims in the case of Rotoli, Myers, Torbett, Porter, and Hager v. the Secretary of Health and Human Services has me wondering if the days of the so-called "Vaccine Court" are numbered.  (An abridged discussion of this case can be found on the web-site of Conway, Homer, and Chin-Caplan, HERE.)

Coming so quickly after the U. S. Court of Appeals decision in Andreu v. Sec. of Health and Human Services (see my previous article Vaccine Court: Don't Be a Putz) it seems as if serious questions are being raised about the conduct of the Vaccine Court.  In Andreu, the appeals court found that the Vaccine Court failed to properly apply all three parts of the three-pronged Althen test in the case of a child who developed seizures after a DPT vaccination.  In what can only be regarded as a slap in the face to the Vaccine Court, the appeals court found the petitioners had made their case and the only question to be answered by the Vaccine Court was the amount of damages.  The Rotoli court specifically cited the Andreu decision in various parts of its decision as an example of serious errors by the Vaccine Court. (Click HERE to read Rotoli.)

In the three public test cases linking vaccines to autism, Cedillo, Hazlehurst, and Snyder, the Special Masters not only denied a link, but took extraordinary efforts to disparage the entire community of parents and medical professionals who assert the credibility of such a link.  This is beyond the pale of what a court is supposed to do and I had wondered if this was simply limited to those who were asserting a vaccine connection to autism.

After reading the sixty-six page Rotoli decision, though, I’m starting to believe the Special Masters are interested in disputing a connection between vaccines and any health problems.  The federal courts now appear to be pushing back against this effort.  I think this apparent federal distrust of the decisions of the Vaccine Court will have significant effects when the three public vaccine-autism cases already decided make their way into the traditional legal system.

In Rotoli, et al, the five petitioners claimed the hepatitis B vaccine caused them to suffer autoimmune hepatitis.  In its review, the U. S. Court of Federal Claims found that three of the petitioners were entitled to compensation, while two were not.  The Federal Claims Court also found the Special Master had so thoroughly misread the law that the decision to render a verdict would be taken away from the Vaccine Court.

With a few edits for ease of reading (mostly eliminating citations and footnotes), here's the bulk of Section I from the discussion section of Rotoli.  (Author's note - The underlining is from the decision itself.)

"I.  The Special Master's Rejection of the Petitioner's Evidence of Causation Violated the Federal Circuit's Standards Under Andreu."

"As described above, the Federal Circuit recently held in Andreu v. Secretary of Health and Human Services that, ‘[w]hile considerable deference must be accorded to the credibility determination of special masters, this does not mean a special master can cloak the application of an erroneous legal standard in the guise of a credibility challenge, and thereby shield it from appellate review.’ The Federal Circuit in Andreu clarified that “[a] trial court makes a credibility determination in order to assess the candor of a fact witness, not to evaluate whether an expert witness’ medical theory is supported by the weight of epidemiological evidence.

"In these five cases, the special master’s analysis of the petitioners’ evidence ran afoul of the Federal Circuit’s standards regarding credibility determinations.  Just as the special master did in Andreu, the special master in these cases erroneously ‘cloak[ed]’ much of his rejection of the petitioners’ theory of causation ‘under the rubric of a credibility determination’ regarding Dr. Joseph A. Bellanti, the petitioners’ expert witness."

"These were not cases in which the special master was ‘assessing the candor of a fact witness,’ in which a credibility determination might have been appropriate.  Instead, Dr. Bellanti was a highly qualified expert witness whose extensive credentials are not in dispute.  At the time of the hearings in this case, Dr. Bellanti was a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center.  He was the Director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center.  He was also the Director of the Division of Immunology and Virology at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Georgetown University Hospital.  He was involved in research, education, and in patient care at Georgetown.  Among other professional organizations, Dr. Bellanti served on the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, where he was the pediatric component’s chairman alongside respondent’s expert, Dr. Burton Zweiman, who served as Dr. Bellanti’s counterpart in internal medicine.  Though Dr. Bellanti is admittedly not a gastroenterologist nor a hepatologist, he is an expert in the field of immunology and is qualified to discuss the pathways of autoimmune disease.  As the Federal Circuit emphasized, where a highly qualified expert such as Dr. Bellanti presents a biologically plausible theory of causation in a vaccine case, the issue is not one of credibility."

"In these cases, however, the special master erroneously founded his rejection of the petitioners’ theory of causation on his assessment of Dr. Bellanti’s ‘poor’ credibility.  The special master’s discussion of Dr. Bellanti’s credibility permeated his analysis of the petitioner’s claims.  Most egregiously, the special master included a nine-page-section – a substantial portion of the total length of each decision – entitled ‘Additional Comments regarding Dr. Bellanti,’ in which he questioned not only ‘Dr. Bellanti’s persuasiveness but also his truthfulness’ as a result of various weaknesses in the evidence underlying Dr. Bellanti’s claims and Dr. Bellanti’s ‘demeanor.’ (‘[T]he evidence from each case solely supports a finding that Dr. Bellanti lacks credibility.')" 

'In addition to the portion of each decision devoted expressly to Dr. Bellanti’s credibility, references to Dr. Bellanti’s credibility also pervaded the special master’s analyses of the medical theory proposed by five petitioners and of the specific evidence of causation in each of the five cases.  In reviewing the evidence (including the medical literature) in the five cases, the special master – rather than simply evaluating whether Dr. Bellanti’s medical theory of causation was supported by the weight of that evidence – went so far as to conclude that the ‘questions about the basis for Dr. Bellanti’s statements . . . have led to a question about Dr. Bellanti’s veracity.  Indeed, by couching his rejection of Dr. Bellanti’s testimony in terms of credibility, the special master apparently expected his analysis to be ‘virtually not reviewable on appeal.’”

“In view of the foregoing, the court finds that the special master erroneously used his assessment of Dr. Bellanti’s credibility – an assessment that should be reserved for ‘assessing the candor of a fact witness’ – as a basis for rejecting Dr. Bellanti’s expert testimony regarding causation, in violation of Andreu.  Moreover, the court finds that the pervasiveness of the comments regarding Dr. Bellanti’s credibility throughout the special master’s decisions – both in his discussion of the medical theory put forth by all five petitioners and in his discussions of the specific evidence of causation in each of the five individual cases – makes it impossible to review the special master’s evaluation of the evidence separately from his erroneous credibility determination.  The special master’s error has tainted his entire causation analysis.  Accordingly, the court finds that the special master’s framing of his rejection of the petitioners’ theory of causation “under the rubric of a ‘credibility’ determination constituted a legal error allowing the court to set aside the special master’s findings under 42 U.S.C. section 300aa-12(e)(2)(B).”

“Rather than remand to the special master for a redetermination regarding causation, the court will issue its own findings in these cases .  . . The Federal Circuit has recognized that the Court of Federal Claims may make its own findings of fact in circumstances in which it concluded that the special master’s decision was arbitrary and capricious or not otherwise in accordance with law ‘and that it is necessary for the [Court of Federal Claims] to substitute its own findings of fact.’  While remand to the special master for a redetermination regarding causation would ordinarily be appropriate, given the protracted, ten-year history of this litigation and the impossibility of separating the special master’s error regarding Dr. Bellanti’s credibility from the rest of the special master’s analysis, the court has deemed it appropriate to make its own findings as to causation in these five cases.”  (Rotoli, pages 11-15)

What can be taken away from this decision?  A couple things come to mind.  For the second time a federal court looking at a decision of the Vaccine Court has found it to be so flawed it must be taken away from the Special Masters.  It's difficult to fully convey how strong of an insult this is in the legal community.

Courts operate on the principle of being fair and unbiased in their application of the law.  They're not supposed to be "arbitrary and capricious."  The Special Master's attack against a well-qualified expert witness like Dr. Bellanti as if he was some junkie eye-witness to a homicide has the federal courts calling into question the very impartiality of the Vaccine Court. 

In my opinion the decisions in Cedillo, Hazlehurst, and Snyder suffered from many of the same problems.  Expert witnesses were attacked for their credibility, rather than responding to their theories with clear discussions of the scientific questions at issue.  The claims of the expert witnesses, their theories, the reports of attending physicians, and the very standards by which the Special Masters were supposed to rule were tossed aside.

In Andreu and now Rotoli the federal courts didn’t even trust the Special Masters of the Vaccine Court to follow their specific instructions. In reading between the lines of the Rotoli decision it's difficult to come to any other conclusion than that now two federal courts don't trust the Vaccine Court to find vaccine injuries.

How long can a court which is held in such contempt by the members of its own legal community continue to exist?

Kent Heckenlively is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism (Thanks to Theresa Cedillo to alerting me to this case.)

Comments

Elizabeth Rawnsley

Our children deserve to be surrounded by an administration that protects them and their best interests. The attorneys are paid,regardless,of any decision,procedural violations or personal or political agenda.


-----Original Message-----
From: rawnsleyb@aol.com
To: cbrown@s-t.com
Sent: Thu, Oct 8, 2009 9:30 am
Subject: Fwd:


Curt Brown

Re: News media

We have a health and human resource secretary in the news media today advocating that the flu vaccine that was made in such a rush is safe and should be used on all children as soon as it becomes available,but the Vaccination Injury Program seems to admit to not keeping any records of any side effects and you should contact the manufacturer.


-----Original Message-----
From: rawnsleyb@aol.com
To: mherzog@hrsa.gov
Sent: Wed, Oct 7, 2009 2:30 pm
Subject: Fwd:


I would like to see all records of training for all judges,reviewing these cases. How do I gain access to this information?


-----Original Message-----
From: rawnsleyb@aol.com
To: MHerzog@hrsa.gov
Sent: Wed, Oct 7, 2009 2:23 pm
Subject: Re:


You don't keep record or maintain any adverse side effects of all vaccines that you advocate should be placed in a baby?


-----Original Message-----
From: Herzog, Michelle (HRSA)
To: 'rawnsleyb@aol.com'
Cc: Cook, Kay (HRSA)
Sent: Wed, Oct 7, 2009 1:25 pm
Subject: RE:


Ms. Rawnsley,

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is not responsible for maintaining a list of vaccines, their manufacturers, and adverse side effects. Please direct your correspondence to the manufacturers themselves.

Thank you,
Michelle Herzog

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: rawnsleyb@aol.com [mailto:rawnsleyb@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 1:23 PM
To: Herzog, Michelle (HRSA)
Subject: Fwd:

Dear Ms. Herzog:

Re: F.O.I.A.

If you could list each vaccine that does list (SIDS) as an adverse side effect,then maybe,that could me easier for you and I to understand. If you could also place the company that does manufacture the vaccines that do list (SIDS) as an adverse effect,then,maybe it would be very helpful to parents and any grandparent.
Thank you for any help and assistance.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth A. Rawnsley

-----Original Message-----
From: rawnsleyb@aol.com
To: mherzog@hrsa.gov
Sent: Tue, Oct 6, 2009 3:53 pm
Michelle Herzog:

Re: Internet: Transcripts of committee meetings: Vaccination Injury Program

I took your email address off one of the transcripts. If you could answer one question for me,it may be helpful. Do the manufacturers of the vaccines list (SIDS) as an adverse side effect?

Sincerely,
Ms. Rawnsley

Hans Raible

The decision of Nancy B. Firestone is a pleasure to read. She is sharp, concise, and to the point. And Ronald Craig Homer, attorney for the petitioners, apparently was on an equal footing with her.

The difficulty in these cases is that the "special master" must have a good knowledge of medicine, and such judges are rare since they can earn more when working for pharmaceutical industry.

Yet, legal standards cannot be relaxed for this special category of judges, and they have to perform as the law demands.

As a German patent attorney, I am well acquainted with the problems caused by "special masters", in our case so-called "technical judges" without a legal education but with some technical expertise such as optics, reactors, alternators or what have you. They easily form the impression that they have some favors to hand out, and need hard teaching that the law is what must govern their activities. And some simply are not suitable for the job.

Hans

Theresa

Curtis, whether the vaccine court is friendly or not to families of vaccine-injured children is not the point. The point is that a system for vaccine-injured plaintiffs exists outside the regular tort system. This is discrimination. We can argue about people's intentions when the the court was created in 1986, but the fact remains that there is no such thing as separate but equal. Having a separate court system for one type of plaintiff is unfair. You state that the Rotoli case is an example of the vaccine court working; I disagree. This is a rare example of an appellate judge reviewing a Special Master's determination... A friend of mine who is a lawyer told me that although everything a special master rules on is ultimately subject to review by an Article III judge, in practice, probably only dispositive or very important issues reach that level. He also mentioned that special masters are sometimes practicing attorneys. Does that sound like a fair system to you? My friend also told me a few other things when I mentioned the recent call for signatories to an amicus brief: There ultimately is possible review by an Article III judge in the Federal Circuit, but first the party would have to appeal to a regular Court of Claims judge. The Court of Claims is Article I. **As a practical matter, a judge nominated and confirmed by the Senate with life-time tenure will never see these issues**

As for the pros and cons of the "green the vaccines" movement, I think the chief contribution of this movement is to raise awareness of the dangers of vaccines among the general public. There are things you can say on TV when you don't categorically condemn vaccines that you would never be allowed to say on TV if you did condemn them all. I'm not saying that I think the separate measles, mumps, and rubella shots are safe, or that there is a "safe" vaccine schedule. In fact, I agree with Hilary that vaccination should be opt-in (like, say, cord blood banking). However, I think that any mom who sees Jenny McCarthy on CNN and hears that some vaccines are cultured in monkey kidney cells that can harbor other viruses is going to do a little more research before shooting her kid up, and that's a good thing.

Hilary Butler

Benedetta, the issue isn't whether or not someone thought they were doing the right thing, at that time.

The issue is two-fold.

1) Those who ignore history, will repeat history.

2) The key issue is to "listen" to people who have dealt with the issues for decades. They just might know something.

Where people new to an issue, think that they alone know it all, that's when something like disastrous legislation can be drafted, no matter the intention of the draftee.

That must not happen again.

That is why someone has to take the "Green the vaccines" movement in hand, and say to them, "Don't repeat the mistakes and actions of those from 1983 - 1986, who refused to listen to the advice of the 99.99% of people who said, "This legislation is total shonk, and will result in travesties of justice for those injured, and a huge increase in the numbers of children injured in the future."

Any group goes to bed with the "enemy" at their peril. The only real power parents will have, is if they have the ultimate say on whether or not their children is going to be vaccinated without fear, enshrined in legislation. If the vacicne manufacturers and the government know that parents can legally walk away from vaccines, only then will they actually start to listen. Therefore universal philo exemption without harrassment, should be the starting, bottom line.

Groups should never think that the medical system and the government are not their "enemy", because as so many know here: the bottom line is that if your child is vaccine damaged, after you go and detail your observations to them, the doors slam on your backside as you walk back out into the street.

They only want to know about you before the needles go in, not after the needles do damage. any legislation which gives them the impunity to contine that position, is wrong.

 children denied proper day in court

Theresa the special masters in kangaroo court are usually from enployees of the DOJ. Interestingly,the DOJ represents the HHS.Equal to OJ deciding domestic abuse cases..........Basically the gvt decides cases against the gvt whom is represented by the gvt. Nice neat little package....Pretending to allow vaccine injured children a day in court. Just ignore the man behind the curtin........

Kevin

Very Interesting Hilary Butler. I've always wondering how that damning regulation ever became law. I can't find a lawyer in Florida that will take our case and now it's too late due to the statue of limitations built into the law.

My only hope is that the law is repealed so that we can fairly go after big pharma. But that's just it - hope. It'll never happen. Why? Because our government will always come up with a looming 'threat'. Whether it be H1N1 or something else, they will find that this law is necessary for the common good of the people (thus hear immunity) and our children be damned (survival of the fittest?).

I will just continue to remember my son as he was; happy, talking, laughing, eating food and living life. Until the MMR when everything changed. I pray and hope that change will come soon so that other children, parents and family don't have to live like this...

Curtis
And, Curtis, if the program is not working, then it should either be repealed or reworked so that the compensation is there for those who need it. If it's not working, repeal it so we can fight the fight in a FAIR COURT OF LAW - NOT SOME DRUMMED UP FALSETTO OF LAW. Give me a break. How many times does the Federal court have to reprimand the 'special' f'n masters to do their jobs right? (sorry for the language, late at night and I've had a couple...)

Curtis

Kent,
I don't think that you or most of those who have posted comments understand the true significance of this decision. In these cases the special master decided against the petitioners in a way that violated prior decisions of the Fedral Ciruit and, most clearly, violated the principles in the Federal Cirucit's decision in Andreu (which was decided after the special master's decision). The petitioners appealed and the US Court of Federal Claims reversed and awarded compensation to 3 of the 5 cases. What you and the posters do not seem to understand is that this is an example of the National Vaccine Injury Compesation Program working -- not of its demise. The CFC porvided meaningful review and awarded compendation to individuals that had made their case (and denied compenstion to those who had not). To date the Program has not provided a remedy for children with autism (except in exceptional cases) and I am not optimistic that it will provide a remedy for children with autism in the future. It has, however provided compensation to hundreds of (mostly) children who suffered acute vaccine related injuries. Over the years, just how friendly (or hostile) the Program has been to vaccine injured person has varied a great deal. Althen, Andreu and now this case has made the law more friendly. The overall environment is less so. The Program is far from perfect, but I do not hope to see the demise of the Program. The National Vaccine Information Center (formerly Dissatisfied Parents Together) should be congradulated for its support of the Program. When created the Program was very friendly to vaccine injured persons. The NVIC has fought -- usally alone -- against many of the developments that have made the Program less receptive to vaccine injured person's needs. Unfortunately, powerful interests inside government and out continue to keep the Program far far less generous than it should be. That does not mean that tort litigation will be kinder or easier -- it won't be.

Benedetta Stilwell

Hilary;
Good information, I have often wondered why we didn't clench our teeth and fist more. I always thought it was being politcally smart???!!! And it has gotten us no where.

There are a lot of us in the past that have been guilty of being whoosies. I guess NVIC was/is too. But being first is some times hard, and I think it was run by people that thought the good in people, and never really understood just how dark the world can be. I am also like that.

Green your vaccines by just merely changing the schedule (better than nothing right now though)may be continuing the whoosie attitude!

Dr. Jon Poling still wants to be reasonable and say things like; it could be brought on not just by vaccines but also by fever, or it could have been a pre-existing condition mitochondria problem which was made worse by the vaccine. He is a whoss along with the rest of us.

In spite of all the hurt in the past, and the increased hurt (in the here and now) we still continue this mild attitude. Oh let us talk together, let us reason together and in spite of this - - In spite of this; the whole world still describes us as the wild eyed, anti - vaccine, crazy radical nuts.

Hilary Butler

Benedetta, the issue isn't whether information received by you, from an organisation, was helpful.

The issue is whether the 1986 legislation was good for children, and parents then, and in the future. 99.9% of lay submitters to the Senate record wanted the legislation scrapped.

The only way anyone could have conceived that the 1986 legislation was the very best thing since sliced bread, was to serially ignore extensive arguments presented to them, and to congress in the many hearings, by many doctors, individuals and organisations.

The sequence of events was:

One of the members of the organization co-wrote the law, and in November 1983, copies were sent to certain people for "advice". Some of those people copied that information, and sent it to an even wider circle, so that everyone knew which hand was doing what. Copies of the replies to that advice were likewise circulated.

The congress records of these hearings are available to US citizens at no cost. You can read this information for yourself, though obviously, it won't tell the story that correspondence of the time does.

So for three+ years, this organisation had at it's finger tips, all the arguments stating that the 1986 legislation would lead to today's situation.

The Spring 1987 issue of DPT News (Volume 3 No 1) goes into great detail as to the extend of the NVIC campaign.

The issue today, is how to move forward. I don't believe that the "green the vaccines" movement understands the real issues, any better than NVIC did in 1983.

The problem is that it's the people with "money" and "clout" who have the biggest shout, and are perceived to have the answers.

But it's parents without a voice, who landed up with no choice.

It's time to move forward with a clear focus of WHY the 1986 legislation should be abandonned, and why the ONLY way to get sense on any vaccine issue is by ensuring vaccination is opt-in, or a philosophical exemption is available to all, and coercion and harrassment to vaccinate become criminal offences.

If vaccines are so safe, and so effective, the evidence should speak for itself shouldn't it?

If CDC pro-vaccine assertions are true, no-one in government could possibly have any objections to allowing parents to make the choice as to whether or not to vaccinate.

What the 1986 legislation did, as a parental mental side effect, was to send many parents to sleep when it came to vaccination decisions. The doctor would say, "Do it!" and parents would sign the form, with a mental "whatever..."

Anyone making choices on the basis that vaccines are "free" (choke) and a Govt safety net is ready and waiting (false security) does not make logical, informed choices.

Where "Risk" is understood to be taken by the person "buying" a product, that person usually investigates vaccines and issues much more closely than would otherwise be the case.

Benedetta Stilwell

Thanks, Angie for sharing this with us. I have done all this, and then I forget over the years and begin to wonder if I did all I could do. You reminded me, and it just made me tired.

Hilary;
This organization (is NVIC?) if so it was very good to me way back when I needed information, and for that I will never forget, and always been grateful. Always! I don't know the political workings behind the creation of the vaccine court, so I always assumed it was what they really, really thought was the for the best for those that had been injuried. AND it was twisted as many good things are by the powers of evil.

Stagmom

You know, I understand immunity for vaccine manufacturers during times of extreme attack. Say, for bioterror. But what was a reasonable approach designed to protect the company and give them an incentive to make a vaccine has become "Carte Blanche" for ALL vaccines, thus negating the effect and generally pissing us all off.

Same with the H1N1 scare. If Ebola were coming to America (or here) I'd be darn scared and a vaccine would sound rather appaealing versus death by exsanguination for my husband, kids, family and friends.

Like anything, a good idea can turn bad depending on how it's used.

K

Hilary Butler

Yes, it is easier to sue McDonalds for being burned by a hot coffee, than to sue manufacturers for a produce injected into American children whose parents chose to vaccinate.

In 1986, there were a huge number of organisations, doctors and individuals who fought against the 1986 legislation. At the time, most of the vaccine manufacturers were against it. Even President Reagan was against the legislation.

In fact, the legislation might not have even got past the word "go", had not one particular organisation decided to partner the American Pediatric Association, and draft the law with them.

Perhaps it's time for that organisation to explain to American parents, why it ignored the mountains of advice given to it, to NOT be involved in any such legislation, or give the Senate or the medical profession the illusion that this awful legislation was what all "sensible" parents wanted.

Perhaps it's time for the then head of that organisation, who remains the current head of that organisation, to consider the cost of the huge increase of children injured, and dead as a result of that legislation, which breathed "life" back into a vaccine industry supposedly "near terminal" as a result of successful tort cases.

Perhaps this organisation should now change their focus, and make first priority, the scrapping of the very legislation which they worked so hard applying huge pressure, to get the majority of media, congress, and public to support, thereby having a major part in bringing it into existence in the first place.

How, you may ask, did this happen? It was a case of divide and rule. Those who campaigned against the legislation, were by implication, made to look as if they were uncaring; the lunatic fringe; the unreasonable. Those who supported the act were portrayed as reasonable, and sane.

Of course they were "insane". As those who campaigned against the legislation said, at the time, the only thing this legislation was, was a "licence to kill more, with greater impunity". And they were proven right.

There are three things which could make the difference now:

1) Kill the 1986 legislation now.

2) Vaccination should be a medical procedure which parents have to actively OPT INTO, and parents should have to sign on the dotted line to do so. It should not be a system where parents have to legally opt out of. Neither should compensation payments come from a system supported by money from the taxpayers pocket.

3) Given that No 2 will never see the light of day, make the current administration allow philosophical exemptions in all states, no questions asked.

4) Coercion to vaccinate, or intimidation during the exemption process, should be made a criminal offence similar to stalking, or sexual harrassment.

5) No employment, in any sector or work, should be contingent on vaccination. That too, should be a criminal offence.

(Yes, Pigs ~other than swine flu~ might fly.)

Only when it can be seen that parents mean business and will opt out of vaccination programmes, or sue their butts of to the enth degree if something happens, will government and the medical profession get the message.

And I have a warning for any who think greening the vaccines will help. It won't. The tail that wags the dog, can easily be cut off.

Twyla

My faith in humanity is restored! May other judges also be able to see through the bullshit! The autism omnibus cases deserve a fair day in court, not the approach taken by the special masters who cast aspersions, and threw aside rules and precedents regarding burden of proof.

Thanks for informing us of this!

paul5of6

The special immunity of the vaccine manufacturers is simply un-American.

For a business wishing to avoid the problem of being sued for making an unsafe product, the solution is to make a safe product.

It's hard to believe that anyone thought a better solution was to grant businesses making unsafe products legal immunity. It's inconceivable that our Congress essentially voted to deny its constituents this civil right.

Angie

Thanks for another great article!
I am not a lawyer, but boy o boy have I learned a LOT about Vaccine Court (from being pointed there from many great articles and strong fighting families here)...and I have learned, about as much as I have gotten my 'online medical degree' I have gotten my 'online law' degree..and have been realizing the HUGE differences between 'Vaccine Court' and the rest of the world..(lol)...
When I read the 3 bogus decisions, I seriously had to stop myself and say "Did they REALLY say/write that? HUH? I cant believe they are putting, in BLACK AND WHITE, something that is so blatently against what the Governing Rules of Vaccine Court state!!"

If they went rule by rule down the rules (statutes) the 'decisions' shouldnt have been more than a few pages:
1+1 does or doesnt =2 and why...thru each of the 'qualifications' the Vaccine Court has for a case to be awarded compensation.
I mean, to me, its pretty simple...the 'special' masters really did themselves 'in' by writing what they wrote, they bounced around the subjects, the facts, and certainly their own set of rules.

So now what is next for the 3 families, can they appeal to these courts next?

I know that its not technically 'the way to do it'..but can we send these Judges that have overturned these 2 cases, and send them copies of these 3 cases that the 'special' masters have truely screwed? I mean, can we place these cases on their radars, maybe they could be the ones to start an investigation into the 'special masters'?

Oh, and I totally agree with the other poster who said (to those that call parents greedy and out for money) to open the yellow pages and try to find an Attorney to take a Vaccine Injury case....she is totally right, I called literally every 'firm' around my SW part of my state, and NOT ONE, NOT ONE would even make an appointment to review the case, and NOT ONE (even when contacted with many details via email) NOT ONE, knew about the (terrible but true) Statute of limitations in the Vaccine Court, and probably all 20+ firms I contacted, ALL said "you are incorrect, Medical Claims are all 10 years ...but if this or that, it could be longer"...and of course, not one would listen to (or actually HEAR) that our case needed fast action before the 3 yr deadline to file was up (of course, I found out about the Vaccine Court about 2 minutes before our 3 years were up)....

anyway, unless you can get into one of the dedicated, awesome, hardworking for the RIGHT reason firms that Specialize in Vaccine Court Claims, more specifically those that handle Childrens Claims, there is a huge chance a parent like me (and many on this site) could 'handle' your claim more efficiently than any other tort lawyer! And that is S>A>D!!!

Angie
Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan

Bob Moffitt

This is very encouraging news.

I could not help being stunned by the greatly exaggerated, harshly descriptive language...the Special Masters used in their finding against witnesses for the Cedillo, Hazlehurst, and Snyder families.

At that time, I thought their poorly chosen descriptions were so "over the top"...that it may actually serve to have their decisions overturned in a federal court.

This latest case offers great hope that such a scenario may actually happen.

Gatogorra

Wow. We all knew that the Special Masters' decisions in Cedillo, Hazlehurst and Snyder were completely biased and unjust-- so much so that it's a shock to see the mechanisms of that injustice recognized even indirectly (in other cases) by other courts. What happens now?

Maureen Drummond

This article is the highlight of my entire 18 years of advocacy work on vaccine hazard awareness and repealing the 1986 Act that allowed for the special court with special masters in the first place! I have always maintained that if we get rid of that act, everything that is wrong with mandatory vaccination policies will fix itself! This makes it seem ever so possible! Thank you so much for bringing these monumental events to light. I finally feel like I can see it coming! :) happy dance!

Kathy Blanco

Where is the supreme court when we need them?

Frank for Aidan

Judge Nancy B. Firestone was responsible for overturning the decisions of the special masters – she’s the “good guy”.

The way I wrote it below might make it sound like she wrote the bad decisions. Sorry for the confusion.

Frank for Aidan

In case you’re like me and knew very little about these “special masters”, see this web site to get the basics:

http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/

How do you file a complaint on these “special masters” when they screw up? There’s a 51 page guidebook at the above web site, or you can always write to your congressional representative and ask that they look into the legal shenanigans of these people.

The more of us that write the better, but wait a few days for the dust to settle from the 09/09/09 NAA initiative. Be brief, respectful and to the point. The judge responsible for this “arbitrary and capricious” decision is named Nancy B. Firestone.

A good copy of the court decision cited in the article can be found at:

http://www.ccandh.com/decisions/Firestone_AIH_Decision.pdf


Theresa Cedillo

Excellent analysis Kent! Thank you once again.

maggie

Who are the special masters of the court. Are their names public? Are they appointed? Who are they related to?

Angela

For some time it has amazed me that - in practical terms - it is easier to sue McDonald's for hot coffee than it is to sue vaccine manufacturers for a product that is injected directly into nearly all American children.

There is something wrong with this scenario. When people argue that vaccine injury charges are driven by "greedy lawyers" I always ask them to flip open their yellow pages and find a vaccine injury attorney in the multitude of med-mal/personal injury practitioners. If you don't readily spot one, why might that be the case? I would love to see a study of exactly how many tort lawyers would be willing to take on a vaccine injury case. It might be enlightening when it comes to the true picture of what it takes to remedy a vaccine-related injury.

This is an important public policy question that needs to be re-visited, if for no other reason than to preserve public health. Parents are starting to mis-trust the entire system. If you cannot reasonably believe that your child will be helped if he/she is injured by a product, you are much less likely to utilize that product, no matter how many times the "experts" tout its safety.

rileysmom

Kent, you and Theresa never cease to amaze me. Sounds to me like "somebody's" in trouble.

Jeanne

Thanks Kent. This is very interesting. I hope you'll continue to keep us updated on the matter.

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