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Mainstream Media Backs Supreme Court, Abandons Vaccine-Injured & Their Families

Posted Mar 01 2011 12:00am

Supreme court By Anne Dachel

March 5, 2011, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial aptly called, Inoculating vaccine makers

(HERE)  The essence of the article was that although it’s regrettable that vaccines damage some children, the Supreme Court did the right thing in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth.

“The Supreme Court correctly shields drug firms from lawsuits over children who have suffered severe side effects from vaccines.”

The LA Times wasn’t alone in their praise for the Court’s action.  The New York Times had the op ed piece, U.S. Supreme Court Decision In Bruesewitz V. Wyeth A Win For Public Health (HERE)  In the NY Times piece, Pfizer Executive Vice President and General Counsel Amy Schulman expressed sympathy for Hannah and reminded everyone that the special National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ‘provides for full consideration of the liability issues.’

The NYT pointed out that amicus briefs were filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. government in support of Wyeth.  The government said. “The Vaccine Act has resulted in ‘a robust federal framework that encourages the development of even safer vaccines and that provides compensation where Congress deemed it appropriate.’”

(This Times piece contrasts with an editorial that was published just last October (HERE)  entitled, The Court’s Pre-emption Test.

There the Times raised serious questions about the right of the federal government to preempt state law. “At stake is the ability of states to protect their citizens, by regulating health, safety, the environment, and other primary interests and by giving victims of wrongdoing redress in court, as long as a state law doesn’t conflict with a federal law.”

Regarding the Bruesewitz case, the Times told us, “The case is about whether the family of a girl, who they said was badly injured by a vaccine, can sue the manufacturer in a state court. Or are they barred by a 24-year-old federal law that blocks this sort of lawsuit if ‘the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable’?”  In closing, the Times piece recommended, Where state efforts to protect citizens and compensate victims don’t conflict with federal law, pre-emption should not be used as a weapon to defeat them.”  It’s hard to reconcile this October article with the current editorial calling the Bruesewitz decision a win for public health.)

The Wall Street Journal had a not-too-subtle title to an opinion piece on February 23, 2011, Science 1, Lawyers 0.  (HERE)  “Science and public health got a booster shot yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that vaccine makers can't be sued in state courts for injuries supposedly caused by their vaccines. The decision was an important strike against a scare campaign that has caused too many parents to put their children at risk by refusing to inoculate them.”

TIME Magazine on February 24, 2011, also endorsed the Wyeth win in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth: What the Supreme Court Decision Means for Vaccines.  (HERE)  In this editorial, we’re reminded that just as vaccines don’t cause epilepsy, they don’t cause autism either. “Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause permanent disorders like autism and epilepsy, many parents cling to the myth. Why? Much of the confusion stems from timing: the first signs of epilepsy, other seizure disorders or autism often appear right about the time children receive many their routine vaccines. The co-occurrence is coincidental.”

Meredith Melnick at TIME seemingly wasn’t concerned when she wrote, “The DTP vaccine that Hannah received came from a batch associated with an unusually high number of adverse events, including one death and eight children who had convulsions. The Bruesewitzes took their case to a Vaccine Court in 1995, but were denied a settlement because residual seizure disorder wasn't one of the adverse events appearing on the Vaccine Table for DTP. The petition was dismissed in 2003.”

It looks like the federal courts, the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and major media sources are all satisfied that justice has been served.  However, lost in all the relief being expressed over the win for pharma is the fact that Hannah Bruesewitz was a perfectly healthy baby until her DPT vaccine at six months of age.  She will require constant care for the rest of her life. 

The NY Times, the LA TIMES, and the WSJ left out all mention of the damage that Hannah suffered.   In their glee over the victory for the vaccine makers, they omit the details given in this story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.   (HERE)  "Hannah’s mother said that her daughter was 6 months old in 1992 at the time of her diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis vaccination. Two hours later she developed seizures and has been diagnosed as having a seizure disorder that resulted from her DTP shot.

Still her case lost in Vaccine Court.  The reason why should have every American concerned. 

The Pittsburgh T-R showed us a photo of Hannah and they reported, “The Bruesewitzes filed a vaccine injury petition in April 1995 with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. A month earlier, the Department of Health and Human Services had removed seizure disorders from the Vaccine Injury Table. The table is used by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to determine whether people making claims have to prove vaccines caused their injuries. The program decided the Bruesewitzes hadn't proved their case, so the couple took their case to state court.

“Russell Bruesewitz, 62, said he suspects the government removed seizure disorders because the claims were costing the program too much money.

“The 1986 law forced the Bruesewitzes to prove the DTP shot caused the seizures even though they were an acknowledged side effect a month earlier. During a hearing, they weren't allowed to cross-examine government experts, who disputed their claim, Russell Bruesewitz said. And they weren't allowed to discover what documents, if any, the government relied on to remove seizure disorders from the side-effects table.

“After the program rejected their claim, the couple sued the vaccine manufacturer, Wyeth Inc. -- now a subsidiary of Pfizer -- which had the case moved to federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The judge in the case ruled the company was exempt from being sued; the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling.”

And now the U.S. Supreme Court bars parents from damage suits in state court—even for a recognized vaccine injury. 

On March 3, 2011, Hannah’s father spoke at a press conference at the U.S. Supreme Court Building in DC.  There he said, “We are… parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who in a recently decided Supreme Court case was denied the opportunity to hold the drug manufacturer accountable for the vaccine she received at six months of age.  Almost 20 years ago, …literally two hours after receiving the vaccine, she started to seize uncontrollably, eventually regressing into brain damage and a lifetime of around-the-clock care.  While the court’s decision was obviously disappointing for us personally, the future concern for all parents faced with a vaccine decision should be ONE: What incentives are in place to assure manufacturers are offering the safest alternative? And TWO: What help is available if their worst fears are realized and a vaccine injury occurs after complying with mandated vaccination?   

“From our perceptive, the court’s decision answered both of these concerns with a definitive NONE.  Putting this in context, the Court’s decision has granted an immunity to drug manufacturers not afforded to any other industry. …”

So what went wrong?  Why is a program that was originally designed to provide swift, non-adversarial compensation now a litigant’s nightmare when a child is damaged by a vaccine?

The new book, Vaccine Epidemic (order HERE)  makes it clear, the entire system—everything from how adverse events are reported to who gets compensated--is specifically designed to deny vaccines are harming kids and to pay off as few claims as possible. 

In the chapter, “A Doctor’s View of Vaccines and the Public Health,” by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, we see a far different system than one that ‘provides for full consideration of the liability issues,’ as described by pharma  spokesperson Amy Schulman. 

In the 1986 Vaccine Act, a reporting system for adverse events was created.  Dr. Tenpenny wrote that since 1999, this system “has received 11,000 to 12,000 individual reports per year.  However, this is a passive surveillance system.  That means it’s up to doctors, parents, and vaccine makers to file a report of damage.  Approximately 15 percent of cases reported are ‘an event that is fatal, life-threatening, requires or prolongs hospitalization, [or] results in permanent disability.’"

All that may not sound too bad, except for the fact that Dr. Tenpenny revealed that a former head of the FDA admitted that only about one percent of serious side effects are ever reported.  Doing the math, Tenpenny pointed out that the real damage total could equal 1,200,000 adverse events annually.

In the chapter, “The Right to Legal Redress,” Mary Holland, JD, and Robert Krakow, JD,  explained what parents can expect from a special interest court designed to protect an industry while pretending to address the legal rights of vaccine victims. 

“The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) represents the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in claims of vaccine-induced injury or death before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  Neither the vaccine industry nor doctors are defendants in the VICP.”

“The VICP has been a dismal failure.  Almost four out of five claimants lost in what was meant to be a petitioner-friendly administrative forum.  The tenor of the VICP proceedings is exceptionally hostile and adversarial—the exact opposite of what Congress intended.  Petitioners must litigate almost every case—almost no injuries are ‘on-table’ administrative claims anymore.  Though Congress intended cases to be resolved within a year, cases now take many years to litigate.” (The Bruesewitz case was filed in 1995 and not dismissed until 2003.)

“There is no judge, no jury, no right to require the adversary to provide information, and no formal rules of evidence and civil procedure.”

Instead of an experienced judge presiding, there’s a Special Master, who is really just a government lawyer appointed to preside over vaccine damage cases.  Parents are in reality up against the U.S. Department of Justice with an unlimited budget to use against claimants.  Vaccines are presumed safe unless proven guilty of damaging a child.  Parents have to show  the injury is related to the vaccine their child received.  It seems a child could collapse ten minutes after receiving a vaccine and it would be seen as a coincidence unless parents could prove a relationship.  This is because, as Holland and Krakow wrote, “The Court of Federal Claims assumes that once the FDA and CDC have approved vaccines, they are safe.  Therefore the government is not required to prove safety.”

Despite the hurdles and road blocks, the VICP has still paid out over $2 billion to more than 2,500 people damaged by vaccines.  Over 5,000 cases are still pending.

All of this is the reality behind the claim that vaccine injuries are redressed in this court.  The NY Times, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine eagerly tell us justice was served by the Brueseswitz decision.  STILL NO ONE ASKS WHY A CHILD WHO DEVELOPS SEIZURES TWO HOURS AFTER RECEIVING A VACCINATION, GETS NOTHING.

They try to cover up this issue by assuring the public that his extra protection for Pharma ensures that the vaccine makers will keep on making vaccines.  They call it a win for public health and for the children of this country.  Underlying this is the expressed relief that this ruling makes it even less likely that any of the thousands of pending autism-vaccine cases will even be heard.

So we’re back to square one.  Every attempt to deny autism is vaccine-related is being made.  Autism is never a problem, non-vaccinating parents are. 

News stories are quick to dismiss parents who dare to make the claim that their children were harmed by vaccines as being part of the “anti-vaccination movement,” regardless of the fact that THEY HAD THEIR KIDS DUTIFULLY VACCINATED. 

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center and one of the principle supporters of the original National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act in 1986 said this about the Bruesewitz decision, ‘Had we ever known or imagined that this day would come, we never would have supported the legislation in the '80s.’

She summed up the horrible truth for parents, "'As of today, you're on your own.’  

Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism.

Posted by Age of Autism at March 10, 2011 at 5:46 AM in Anne Dachel Permalink

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