Mercury Vaccine Lawsuit Over Autism Allowed to Continue by Georgia Supreme Court

In a unanimous decision issued this week, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a family’s lawsuit against the manufacturer of a vaccine with a mercury-based preservative can go forward to trial on claims that the vaccine caused their child to develop autism.

Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari filed a lawsuit against Wyeth, which was previously known as American Hope Products Corp., alleging that their son’s autism was caused by booster shots received when he was 18 months old. The vaccine lawsuit alleges that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, caused the autism.

On October 6, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded that a federal law which limits vaccine makers’ liability and establishes a compensation fund for individuals injured by childhood vaccines, does not bar the family’s lawsuit from going to trial.

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The decision upholds a prior ruling of the Georgia Court of Appeals, which was the first appellate court in the United States to hold that lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers under state law are not pre-empted by the federal law. At least seven other states have issued opinions that their state law claims are blocked.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 was enacted to reduce the financial liability of vaccine companies due to vaccine injury lawsuits. In 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was created under the NCVIA to provide a federal system of compensation for vaccine-related injuries or deaths, by establishing a claim procedure involving the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The Georgia Supreme Court allowed the Ferrari family’s vaccine lawsuit to continue, holding that vaccine manufacturers must prove on a case by case basis that side effects of a particular vaccine were unavoidable to be immune from product liability lawsuits.

The decision paves the way for the Ferrari’s case to proceed to trial, where the family will be required to establish that the mercury vaccine caused their son’s autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has previously rejected the link between thimerosal and autism. However, families of autistic children have previously presented claims through the injury compensation program involving vaccines with the mercury-based preservative.

According to the Associated Press, Wyeth intends to appeal the decision in the Georgia vaccine lawsuit to the United States Supreme Court.

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  • RossSeptember 11, 2010 at 1:53 am

    When are people going to realize vaccine and pharmaceutical producers are not humanitarians, but simply product pushers who market through lies and fear mongering, and, by influencing all necessary with payments, or threats. Most CEO'S should be in prison.

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