Supreme Court refuses to block vaccine lawsuit

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to block a $10 million lawsuit against the manufacturer of a government-approved whooping cough vaccine that allegedly caused brain damage in an infant who was inoculated. The justices, without comment, let stand a ruling in a Virginia case that federal law does not foreclose such suits under state regulations that protect consumers against products that are defective in design.

In a somewhat related issue, the Supreme Court ruled last June that the government may be forced to pay damages when a vaccine it licenses causes the disease it was intended to prevent. That case reinstated a suit in behalf of a boy who contracted polio after receiving a dose of federally approved vaccine.

Congress passed a law which took full effect Oct. 1 creating a fund to help compensate children injured by vaccines. The new law places a tax on some vaccines to provide funds for injuries that occur from vaccinations after 1986.

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