TACA’s Response to Autism Omnibus Court Decision

What happened February 12, 2009 in Washington, DC?

More than a year-and-a-half has passed since the first Autism Omnibus Proceeding test case was heard to address claims of vaccine injury filed by parents of children with autism.  Families who believe their children’s autism was caused by vaccines have anticipated this day for a long time. Today we have the first three verdicts. To date, more than 5300 claims have been filed in the program with the cases still waiting to be heard.

What were the verdicts?

Today we learned yet another government system has failed the families affected by autism. All three cases:  Cedillo, Hazelhurst, and Synder were ruled against the families and they were found not entitled to a program award for their children for the vaccine autism link.  The problem with the rulings is the judges indicated that the petitioners has fallen short of demonstrating such a link. And at the same time they did not dispel it either.

Who are the Cedillo, Synder and Hazelhurst families?

Michelle Cedillo is a fourteen-year-old girl who developed autism after her MMR shot at 15 months of age. She was the first ever Omnibus Autism test case in June 2007. The first day of Michelle’s Omnibus case created a media frenzy. Twelve-year-old Colten Snyder and nine-year-old Yates Hazelhurst were the second and third Omnibus cases tried in November of 2007.  Similar to Michelle Cedillo, these two boys also regressed into autism as toddlers after their routine pediatric vaccines. To date, six test cases have been tried in the Autism Omnibus Proceedings.

TACA would like to take this time to recognize the extreme courage of the Cedillo, Snyder and Hazelhurst families.  These families blazed the legal trail for children with autism in the Omnibus Autism Program. These brave families and their children are our heroes.

How do these cases relate to Hannah Poling’s Omnibus Case?

Hannah Poling’s case was conceded by the U.S. government in November 2007. A concession is very different from a decision made by the court.  In Hannah’s case, the Department of Health and Human Services advised the Department of Justice not try her case and to compensate Hannah for the injuries incurred after her vaccinations.  The public did not find out about the concession until journalist David Kirby wrote about it in the Huffington Post on February 25, 2008. In a sense, Hannah was the first autism/vaccine injury case on record to be reconciled even though her case did not go to trial.

We have many questions as to why the government would concede this case before trial and rule against others that had similar evidence.

For more information on Hannah’s case – please see these links:

Hannah Poling 1
Hannah Poling 2

What is the Omnibus Autism Program?

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 1988. The VICP was created to ensure there was an adequate supply of vaccines and stabilize vaccine costs. Prior to this Act, there were only a handful of drug companies who produced vaccines.  These companies had suffered huge losses in civil court over vaccine injuries.  The drug companies lobbied for protection and the Act was passed.

A responsibility of the VICP was to establish and maintain an accessible and timely venue for individuals found to be injured by vaccines. The VICP was developed to be a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U. S. Court of Federal Claims decides these claims in court commonly referred to as vaccine court. Damages are paid to individuals from a fund that government maintains. Drug companies can no longer be sued a civil court of law until the claim has gone through the VICP. For more information go to: HRSA.gov vaccine compensation.

The VICP was set up for individuals that suffered an “on the table” vaccine injury.  That is, an injury that happened within minutes or hours after receiving a vaccine.  Starting in 2001, parents of children with autism started filing claims with VICP.  These claims were considered “off the table,” meaning the vaccine injury did not occur “on the table” or at the time of injection.  In July of 2002, the Special Masters (the term used for judges in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims) established the procedure for addressing these claims and the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP) was born. It was at that time that parents started flooding OAP with claims.  As stated before, more than 5300 claims have been filed in the program to date.

For more information on the Omnibus cases & decision: click HERE

No link to Vaccines & Autism

While the press and several vocal scientists continue to quote there is no link between autism and vaccines, we encourage individuals to continue to do their own research.  There appears to be a pattern in a susceptible group of children receiving adverse reactions to their vaccines leading to regressive autism.
Medical abstracts that review the link of autism and vaccine injuries including other co-morbid features often found in children affected by autism can be found at these links:

Studies 1
Studies 2

Analysis of the decisions

I had the privilege of attending part of Michelle Cedillo’s three week trial. I watched Michelle’s baby videos in the court room along with the Special Masters. I saw a gorgeous, typical toddler regress into hideous medical problems within days of her MMR vaccine. Her illness and change after that pediatrician’s visit was dramatic and very visible to those watching the case unfold. The testimony that Theresa Cedillo provided was articulate and heartbreaking. No family should have to witness these dramatic changes and new medical issues in their beloved child. 

I have to think that the reason it took nineteen months for a verdict is that the decision was difficult to conclude.  The burden of scientific proof in vaccine court is “more likely than not” that the vaccine caused the child harm. These Special Masters must have wrestled with their verdicts.  Especially since this was new territory for these judges. Up until this point, the Special Masters were deciding cases that were “on the table injuries,” which means the child reacted to their vaccination with in minutes or hours of injection.

The fact that it took this long for these three decisions has to mean that the vaccine injury evidence was highly regarded.  Poor evidence would have produced a negative decision very quickly.  Most likely what stood in the way of these decisions going to the children are:

Blocked access to the Vaccine Safety Data (VSD) for the attorneys of these children.
2. There was no discovery phase to trial.
3. There was no jury. 
4. Parents and independent scientists do not have the resources to fund vaccine injury science outside pharmaceutical industry ties.
5. After years of pleading, the government still refuses to do the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study health outcomes study.

The decision today didn’t say that it couldn’t happen.  The decision said that there was not enough science at the time of the trial to back up the claim that vaccines were the causation of autism theory.  The science may be there at some point, maybe very soon.  The Cedillo, Snyder and Hazelhurst cases will be appealed and looked at again. After all, if the government can not definitively tell us the cause autism, they can not tell us what doesn’t cause autism either.  This fight is not over.


Related TACA Links for Families:

1) Vaccine Choices    2) Deirdre Imus Greening

For Daily Audio Interviews about Omnibus – Cedillo cases:


For Additional Information on Omnibus Hearings go to: Vaccine Compensation

Watch Video Response from the National Autism  Association




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