February 23, 2011 in Nation/World

Ruling shields vaccine makers


The Supreme Court on Tuesday shielded the nation’s vaccine makers from being sued by parents who say their children suffered severe side effects from the drugs.

By a 6-2 vote, the court upheld a federal law that offers compensation to these victims but closes the courthouse door to lawsuits.

Justice Antonin Scalia said the high court majority agreed with Congress that these side effects were “unavoidable” when a vaccine is given to millions of children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics applauded the decision.

The ruling was a defeat for the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who as a child was given a standard vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. She later suffered a series of seizures and delayed development. Her parents sought compensation for her injuries, but their claim was turned down.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, arguing that Congress did not mean to shield drug makers from suits if their vaccines were defective and prone to cause injuries. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the decision.

Tribune Washington bureau

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