Skip to comments.Girl gets $4.7M for vaccine injuries
Posted on 08/25/2002 7:06:30 PM PDT by Incorrigible
Friday, August 16, 2002
By LINDY WASHBURN
A New Jersey girl whose mental development stopped at 2 months old after a routine immunization has received a $4.7 million settlement from a national trust fund.
More than $3 million of the award will go to an annuity that will pay for the child's care as long as she lives. Its payout could exceed $61 million if she lives to 71, said Mindy Michaels Roth, the Glen Rock attorney who brought the case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The payment to the girl, now 9 years old but with the mental ability of a 2-month-old, comes from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, funded by a 75-cent tax on each vaccination. Congress created the fund in 1986, at a time when a growing number of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers was driving them out of the marketplace, and more parents were choosing not to immunize their children because they feared harmful side effects.
"It removes a tremendous weight as to how we'll care for [our daughter] financially,'' said the girl's father, who lives in Central Jersey and asked that the family not be identified. "As finite human beings, we die. Who's going to care for her? This eliminates that burden'' because her eventual care in a nursing home is provided for, he said.
Congress established the program to stabilize the supply of vaccines and free money for research on safer alternatives.
The program also created a less expensive method to resolve claims outside the normal court system.
Since its inception, the fund has settled more than 5,500 claims, and awarded nearly $1.4 billion. Awards range up to $9.1 million. This year's average has been $800,000.
The fund provides compensation for injuries from all vaccines mandated by the federal government: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP); measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); polio, hepatitis B, chickenpox, and H. influenza Type B.
This month, the pneumococcal vaccine was added to the list, and it became easier for parents whose babies suffered a bowel blockage following the rotavirus vaccine to secure compensation. Injuries from smallpox and anthrax vaccines are not covered by the fund.
Legislation is also pending, Roth said, to consider autism as a possible vaccine-related injury.
Some people believe the rising incidence of autism is partly attributable to the growing number of vaccines administered before a child's immune system is mature. In particular, they cite the mercury used as a component in some vaccines as a possible toxin.
However, a recent Institute of Medicine report concluded there was insufficient evidence to accept or reject a link between thimerosal, a mercury component in some vaccines, and autism and other developmental and neurological disorders.
Of the 4 million children each year who receive multiple vaccines, about 10,000 adverse reactions are reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of those reactions are minor, but about 15 percent report incidents of hospitalization, disability, life-threatening illnesses, or death. Those reports do not prove the vaccine caused the problem, however.
The Central Jersey girl, the youngest of four children, was a bright, healthy 2-month-old when she visited a pediatrician in September 1993, her mother said. While there, she was given a vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP).
Eleven hours later, her mother noticed odd eye movements as she changed the baby's diaper. She put the baby to bed and went to sleep, she said. When she awoke the next morning, she realized her daughter hadn't cried for her 3 a.m. feeding.
She found the baby "red in the face, foamy at the mouth, and having difficulty breathing,'' the mother said. The baby didn't have a fever, however, and the pediatrician advised her to keep an eye on the situation.
The baby was very lethargic, her parents said. Later, as her father held her in his arms, she started to shake - the first of many seizures. As the seizures increased, she was hospitalized.
"It was very frightening,'' the girl's mother said.
At first, neither the family nor the doctors connected her problems with the vaccination. "It's a highly emotional state,'' the father said. "It takes time to wrestle with this. ... There are all sorts of different distractions.''
At first, they didn't know her condition would be permanent. Health-care professionals tried to give them hope.
Only through careful questioning did the parents learn the likely long-term prognosis for their daughter. They hoped that her condition would not be permanent, but they realized they had to plan as if it were.
When a pediatric neurologist told them he believed the girl's problems were linked to the vaccine, he suggested they might seek compensation from the fund. That was when they learned the urgency of filing such a claim.
The fund operates with strict time limits, and the family said it spoke publicly to help make others aware of the potential for compensation and its timetables.
A child injured by a vaccine must file a claim within three years after the first symptoms appear.
The family of a child who dies must file within two years of the death.
No lawsuits concerning vaccine injuries can be filed in a civil court, the law says, until after a claim has been filed with the vaccine compensation program and the litigant has decided to reject its award.
As a result, the number of lawsuits filed against vaccine manufacturers has plunged since the fund's inception: four suits against DTP makers in 1997, compared with 255 in 1985.
In New Jersey, four attorneys are listed by the Court of Federal Claims for filing vaccine-related claims with the program. Roth and her partner, Drew Britcher of Britcher, Leone & Roth, are two of them.
"People need to know to get to the fund,'' Roth said. "They have this child. They have huge medical bills.
They'll be capped-out on their insurance. There is a place to go. If you don't go there, you aren't going to go anywhere. You will be dismissed from state court, and have no recourse.''
The program, which operates with a special master, pays attorney fees regardless of whether the claim succeeds or fails. The fees are based on an hourly rate of $175, plus expenses - not a percentage of the settlement, as in malpractice cases. Awards for pain and suffering are capped at $250,000.
The child is the sole beneficiary of the award, not the family. If the child dies, the annuity established as part of the award reverts to the compensation fund.
Nine years after the Central New Jersey girl's DTP shot, she continues to suffer seizures and to be affected by swelling in the brain.
"In physical development, she's a 9-year-old girl,'' said her father, chuckling that she may turn out to be the tallest member of the family. Mentally, or cognitively, however, "her development was arrested at two months.''
She cannot control her own movements, and is blind. The family cares for her at home.
Among their first purchases from the settlement is a specially equipped van, with a ramp and space for her wheelchair.
The girl weighs 47 pounds; lifting her in and out of the car has become increasingly difficult.
The van hasn't arrived yet, her mother said, "but we feel better already, just having ordered it.''
Lindy Washburn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Not for commercial use. For educational and discussion purposes only.
-- from bonesmccoy
First, the implied threats and attempts to intimidate, recapped here.
Then the constant whining to JimRob.
Congratulations, you've outdone even yourself. That is outrageous
So, you're suggesting the CDC is in league w/Al Qaeda?? Since the CDC is refusing to offer smallpox vaccine to the general populace, they must be suspect!
And, since the CDC says that even those of us previously vaccinated against sm-pox have little to no immunity left, we'd all have to get revaccinated (apparently every 7-10 yrs to keep a strong immunity).
"They" have not tried to make us give her the pertussis, but she starts kindergarden this year and they may raise a stink if they notice her records do not include pertussis. I don't care - there is no way she will ever have another pertussis shot.
Well, like I said in the other thread, once the lawyers get involved, scientific clarity tends to dissipate.
I have become convinced that there are extenuating circumstances (heavy use of hair dye being just one) that lead to autoimmune disease beyond silicone breast implants if indeed there's any link between the two at all! Yes, junk science and greedy lawyers led to the Dow Corning train wreck. I don't understand women who get cosmetic implants anyway but that's a whole other subject.
I agree with childhood vaccinations. I would suggest (though not stridently) that parents push the timetable for injections back by 6 months but that's about it. I just figured I throw a little red meat into the cage with this article.
I've already posted a ton of messages and started multiple threads on the smallpox issue.
Roughly 1 in a 500,000 doses end up getting polio from the oral polio vaccine. This is why we ended use of the oral polio vaccine two years ago.
You know NOTHING regarding vaccines. We're already had this discussion and you are continuing to post your rhetoric here. Why?
Care to join the rest of the 21st Century?
No DOCTOR the LIVE VACCINE WAS NOT USED IN THE 1950's now was it? I think I'm right on that. Second onset of Quadriplegia was at age 35 in 1985 not in the 1950's no vaccine taken for POLIO within 30-35 years. Third DOCTOR LOOK AT INFORMATION on TRANSVERSE MYELITIS. What is it linked to? Does most information not include Vaccines??? Well doctor?? Does it not also say POILO? She as I took both the Salk and Sabian vaccine. But the live vaccine was not in production till she was 10 years old or 1960 era right?
BTW the POLIO possibility was discovered in a Physical Rehabilation Center with a good national reputation. I saw the onset happen with my own two eyes. It took one hour from walking to quadriplegia. There is nothing not one thing I have posted in this thread that is not aviable at many reputable sources. Maybe she had mild Polio before even getting the Salk vaccine we simply do not know nor neither do you. She had minor limb dysfunction as early as 6-7 years old 1956-57 along in there.
You are a doctor you must know Polio can and does come back later in life and does more Neurological Damage. Transverse Myleitis is indeed linked to Polio and the Polio vaccine. If the symptoms were 30 years delayed from previous occurance would it not be relapse? BTW no other test showed cause for this.
I don't call what has been posted in here irresponsible but rather experiences of some who have seen for themselves bad reactions.
As a point in this manner you will also find many shrinks and GP's who will dispense SSRI's like candy never telling patient about their dangers and yes doctor their are risk. Don't tell me their aren't you wern't there for hell week. Many complications come from doctors not doing simple medical history workups and it's relationship to the pharmacology involved which points to conditions SSRI's would not be prudent for treatment.
You see I know one common link to Serotonin Syndrome and anxiety disorders. You do not enhance someones very dysfunctional sensory receptor, transmission, and interpitation system with SSRI's without extreme caution. A common dysfunction I share with my wife is Vestibular Dysfunction hers due to quadriplegia mine due to allergies. Vestibular Dysfunction is a cause of Anxiety Disorder. I can back it up. It's been suspect since the mid 1970's found by a research shrink/ Neurologist and now backed up by Vestibular research. The Doctor? Harold Levinson. Go tell this to your Shrink friends and listen to them laugh and trust me they will. Then go on line and see for yourself the links of Vestibular Dysfunction to Cognitive Behavioral problems. Both of us it seems are SSRI intollorant. Yet I fought against doctors who said the SSRI will not cause reactions both of us had to them including Dysreflexia.
If a vaccine or a medication produces allergic reaction it is best to stop the vaccine till further investigation is done in that person. And that is what is being talked about here individual cases of reactions where the ounce of prevention my be worse than the illness itself or risk may be lower of not ever catching that virus or whatever than continuing a course of treatment in a patient where bad reactions have occured.
Now just for the record and you can ask ALB. on this matter. I used to be on these threads saying there was no or little risk in SSRI's.
That is why I brought SSRI's up this up the very same attitude exist in the medical community on vaccines as it does with SSRI's. Yet the discussions I had with him and many other Freepers on this very matter likely save my wife's life. You are a doctor you should know better than to wholesale dismiss this discussion as nonsense. Calling for the safest form of treatment and looking into or reviewing complications is the foundations of medical science.
Remember the first rule. Do no harm. I have ran into many who long ago forgot that. I have also ran into good doctors who take the time to keep themselves up to date. Let's go back to where in 1985 when the onset of quadriplegia hit my wife. The very first questions the Neurologist asked concerned vaccines. She had not taken any in over 5 years for any reason. The last injection was 5 years earlier for a simple TB test to get a health card.
Grow up and go talk to your physician. I'm not going to spend hours each day trying to address your mistaken views. Your scientific arguments are weak and I've already had multiple email messages with you regarding your conduct. good day.
My children are NOT preventing their child from being vaccinated. They are just doing them ONE at a time to lessen his reaction to them. It was the giving of FOUR at one time that made Matthew so sick. When you have a known family history of bad reactions it is a WISE parent that uses a degree of caution. By doing ONE at a time they can best determine which one caused ADVERSE maybe threatening reactions.
Just because it is the NORM does NOT make it right for everyone. NOT every one is 'average'.
We have a family history of BAD reactions to medicines.