Monday, March 15, 2010
Autism omnibus deja vu
Sorry about that, as I was saying, the special masters of the vaccine court have decided, once again, that there is no ...
Sorry, I can't seem to stop yawning, where was I ....
... no relationship between vaccines and autism.
Seriously, do these latest rulings surprise anyone? We have the same three special masters looking at the same issues as they did last time, and it is notable when they arrive at the same decisions? If they came up with a different answer, that would be something to talk about.
But this? Really?
Short of the appeals court overturning one of the omnibus cases, I don't expect anything new from the vaccine court. The rule has already been established. Say the words "autism" and "vaccine" together and your case will be denied. Go for a different approach and agree to call the problem something other than autism, and you may have a slim chance. Either way, if you think your child's autism was caused or triggered by vaccines, you are most likely wasting your time in vaccine court.
The special masters have made their opinion known on the issue and autism and vaccines, and I am sure that they want to be rid of all of the remaining omnibus cases as quickly as possible. And, in fact, that appears to be happening already.
There are a number of cases that I found - like this one, this one, this one, this one, or this one - where the case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had passed. The basic idea here seems to be to look back in the child's history to where they show the first possible sign of speech delay. Since speech delay can be a sign of autism, this is used as the time of onset and starts the countdown toward the statute of limitations. If the parents did not file within the 36 months of the onset, then the statute of limitations has passed and the case is dismissed.
Simple, but effective.
The next step for all of the omnibus cases will be known in about a year when the US Supreme Court would be expected to rule on whether vaccine makers can be sued in civil court for potential defects in their products. That is, assuming the issue at the heart of the case is decided and that the case isn't delayed or sent back to the lower courts for other reasons.
Until then, there isn't going to be much of anything to talk about.