U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Compensation Law Bars Vaccine Suits


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a federal law bars a lawsuit that claims a vaccine caused a child’s seizures and developmental delays.

The parents of Hannah Bruesewitz claim the girl was injured as a result of a design defect in the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine made by Wyeth, according to stories in Reuters, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). and SCOTUSblog.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the suit was barred by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which set up a no-fault compensation program for vaccine injury claims. The law prohibits suits over vaccine injuries that were unavoidable even if the vaccine is made properly.

The plaintiffs in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth claimed the vaccine manufacturer could have made a safer vaccine but opted not to do it, the Wall Street Journal says. At issue is whether the federal law bars all design defect claims, regardless of whether the injuries were unavoidable, according to SCOTUSblog and the cert petition (PDF).

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