|Boy awarded $43.1
The 7-year-old’s settlement comes under a national vaccine compensation program.
By JULIUS A. KARASH
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
In what is thought to be one of the largest such settlements ever, a quadriplegic boy has been awarded $43.1 million under a government vaccine injury program.
Seven-year-old Mario Arturo Rodriguez, who once lived in Kansas City and received a vaccination at Children’s Mercy Hospital, will receive the money under a settlement reached this week through the no-fault National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Mario’s case alleged that he became a quadriplegic after receiving a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at Children’s Mercy Hospital’s pediatric clinic on Jan. 25, 2000.
The hospital was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Under the guidelines of the program, the litigation was filed against the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kansas City attorney Leland Dempsey, who represented Mario, said Thursday that it was his understanding that the settlement was one of the biggest ever reached under the program.
“One unusual aspect of the case is that Mario is expected to have a normal lifespan, and therefore will require more years of care that will cost more money,” Dempsey said. “He will need round-the-clock care, including extensive medical intervention, throughout his life.”
Dempsey said the money will be paid over Mario’s lifetime, probably beginning with about $2 million this year. The boy lives with his mother in Oak Harbor, Wash., he said.
Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, said Thursday that he was not familiar with the case and therefore could not comment.
According to statistics on the department’s Web site, www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation, in fiscal year 2006 the fund paid out a total of $38.2 million in cases involving 47 awards.
The program was established in 1988 to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs and establish an accessible forum for those injured by vaccines. A small percentage of children have serious reactions to vaccinations.
Dempsey emphasized that Mario’s injuries are highly unusual and that parents should not hesitate to get their children immunized against diseases.
“I can’t imagine that anyone would refrain from getting their child immunized,” Dempsey said. “It would be irresponsible.”