SUPREME COURT REJECTS DPT LAWSUIT APPEAL
American Home Products Wins Rejection of Vaccine Lawsuit
> Washington, Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- An American Home Products
> Corp. unit fought off a lawsuit filed on behalf of a girl who
> allegedly suffered brain damage after receiving a DPT vaccine.
> The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, rejected an appeal
> seeking to revive a suit filed by the family of Jessica Evans. A
> federal appeals court had rejected the case, citing an Illinois
> rule barring plaintiffs from repeatedly refiling the same
> Evans' family argued a federal law trumped that state rule.
> The law, the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, is
> designed to funnel complaints into a no-fault system that
> promises limited but guaranteed payments to those who are
> infected by vaccines.
> Under the federal setup, litigants who sued before the law
> was enacted may withdraw their complaints and use the no-fault
> system at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington. If
> those people then aren't satisfied with the results, the law lets
> them refile their suit in federal court.
> In the Evans case, the family already had filed the case
> twice, even before trying to take advantage the no-fault system
> at the claims court. The family then decided to drop that no-
> fault proceeding and tried to refile the case in federal district
> court, naming American Home's Lederle Laboratories, the Link
> Clinic in Coles County, Illinois, and Dr. O. Sharma as
> A federal judge threw out the case, citing an Illinois rule
> that generally permits plaintiffs to drop and then refile a case
> only once. The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
> upheld that ruling in February. The appeals court said the
> federal system for resolving vaccine complaints didn't preclude
> application of the state rule.
> The case is one of a handful against drug companies
> involving DPT vaccines, some of which have been found to cause
> rare but serious side effects in some infants. The vaccines are
> to prevent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
> The case is Evans v. Lederle Laboratories, 99-198.
> --Greg Stohr in Washington, (202) 624-1841/gcb/jhr