Supreme Court Sides With Vaccine Manufacturers; State-Law Design Defect Claims Preempted


The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, ruled that the National Childhood Vaccine Act of 1986 (NCVIA) preempts state-law design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers. [See Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, FKA Wyeth, Inc.] The NCVIA, designed to ensure a stable vaccine supply, establishes a special, company-financed, no-fault system that guarantees payments to patients for injuries caused by a vaccine, but, in exchange, provides significant tort liability protection to the vaccine manufacturer. In considering the NCVIA's preemptive effect, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, found that the NCVIA itself "suggests that the design of the vaccine is a given, not subject to question in [a] tort action" and, therefore, Congress must have intended to bar lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers based on so-called design defects.

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, FKA Wyeth, Inc.

In Bruesewitz, the plaintiff, Hannah Bruesewitz, alleged that she suffered seizures and developmental delay as a result of the injection of a diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DPT) vaccine when she was only 6 months old. After her claim filed under the federal compensation system was rejected, Hannah's parents filed suit against the vaccine manufacturer in state court alleging their daughter's injuries were caused by toxins in the vaccine – and that a safer alternative had been available but was not used.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sedgwick LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.