By: Lauren Cox
11 October 2010
The Supreme Court is set to hear the first arguments Tuesday in a vaccine injury case that pediatricians and medical malpractice lawyers worry will drastically change how patients sue vaccine manufacturers in this country.
By law, families who want to sue for vaccine injuries must first go through a special “vaccine court” created by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA). The Supreme Court must now decide whether a family can sue without going through vaccine court, on the grounds there was a defect in the design of the vaccine.
Russell and Robalee Bruesewitz, the plaintiffs in Tuesday’s case, are not the first to try to sue outside of vaccine court, but their case may decide how the cases of hundreds of other families suing vaccine manufacturers proceed.
Their daughter, Hannah Bruesewitz, was 6 months old in 1992 when she received her third scheduled dose of the whooping cough-tetanus-diphtheria (DTP) childhood vaccine. Soon after, doctors diagnosed her with a seizure disorder, developmental problems and encephalopathy, a condition that can lead to permanent brain damage according to a bulletin hosted by Cornell University Law School.