The United States Supreme Court is currently debating a word that could determine the fate of vaccine-related liability lawsuits for years to come. That word is “unavoidable,” and the question is whether or not certain instances of, presumably, vaccine-related developmental defects like cerebral palsy are, in fact, avoidable.
The case being debated by the court involves the family of a young woman who was given the D.T.P. (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) vaccine as an infant in 1992. She now suffers from severe developmental defects and ongoing seizures.
The family claims that the girl’s medical problems can be traced directly to the vaccine, but lower courts have so far been unwilling to find against the company that produces it.
The Supreme Court is carefully parsing the meaning behind a 1986 law that has determined the way in which vaccine makers can be sued in the event of complications. Thus far, legal action has been relegated to instances involving product defects or some other preventable error.
When the vaccine is properly prepared and correctly administered, vaccine makers are more or less immune from any sort of legal action. The wording in the law refers to these instances of immunity as ones in which the negative effects encountered following the vaccination are “unavoidable.”
What the Supreme Court is debating is whether or not unavoidability in the event of vaccine administration is the same is overall unavoidability.