May 10

Federal Court Compensated 83 Vaccine-Injured Autistic Children

For over 20 years, the federal government has vehemently denied a vaccine-autism link. But a new study, the first to examine the successfully adjudicated cases of vaccine-induced brain injury by the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), uncovered 83 cases of autism among those who have been compensated for vaccine-­induced brain damage–most notably, "encephalopathy," "residual seizure disorder," "developmental regression."

The evidence uncovered by this study, clearly belies public pronouncements by government officials who have for decades misled the public by claiming emphatically that "no evidence exists linking autism to vaccines" and "no case of vaccine-­induced autism has ever been compensated."

The peer-reviewed study by Mary Holland, Research Scholar and Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program, NYU School of Law; Louis Conte, Robert Krakow, and Lisa Colin, was published in the Pace Environmental Law Review

The authors relied on evidence recorded in VICP court documents. Their review of 170 adjudicated cases, found that 83 children with autism received compensation for vaccine-induced injury. That number, the authors note, is probably the tip of an iceberg.

The overwhelming majority of petitioners in the VICP have not received compensation.
Of the 13,755 claims filed in the VICP to date, 2,621 awards have been paid, or less than 1 in 5 ofthe total number of claims filed. So far, 5,277 claims have been dismissed and 5,857 claims are pending.  In all, 2,500 cases have been compensated by VICP.

The 83 cases of children diagnosed with autism who were compensated for vaccine-induced brain damage, demonstrate that the VICP court has quietly, though inconsistently, compensated some children who suffered  vaccine-­induced neurological damage associated with autism–since the inception of the VICP program in 1986.

 The study is likely to ignite the acrimonious debate about vaccine-induced autism. The findings raise serious questions about the unfair, inconsistent, inequitable treatment the VICP has applied to thousands of similar cases that have been brought before it.

How do the 5,000 cases of “autism” that the VICP rejected in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (2010) differ from the cases of “encephalopathy” and “seizure disorder” that the VICP has compensated before and since?

The catalyst for this Pace law review of VICP published compensated cases, was the case of Hannah Poling.  In a 2008 report submitted to the VICP (which was leaked to the press) the Health and Human Services administration "conceded"  that vaccines had triggered Hannah Poling’s encephalopathy and subsequent developmental regression. HHS’s description of the child’s condition implied a distinction between “autism-­like symptoms” and “autism,” although there was no ambiguity that Hannah Poling in fact had autism.

 In 2010, the VICP court award Poling $1.5 million, while denying other similarly injured children compensation. Nevertheless, in March 3, 2011, HHS baldly disclaimed its own 2008 "concession" document, stating in its Statistics Report: “HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.”


Of note, a key similarity among the 83 successful claims, including the Poling case, claims which produced more than $96.7 million in settlements and awards, is semantics not evidence of injuries: the families who were successful in their claims did not assert that autism was their child’s primary injury.

 The authors call for Congressional hearings to examine the lack of fairness and inconsistency in VICP compensation determinations.

 Posted by Vera Hassner Sharav

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