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Monday, January 3, 2011

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and Preemption: An Overview of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth

Vivian S. Chu
Legislative Attorney

On October 12, 2010, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, a case involving the scope of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. The Supreme Court faces consideration of whether 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-22(b)(1) of the act precludes all vaccine design defect claims even if the vaccine’s side effects were avoidable, or whether the vaccine manufacturer has to show on a case-by-case basis that the side effects could not have been avoided by some alternatively designed vaccine. Both parties have fundamentally differing interpretations of the statute’s plain meaning and of Congress’s intent. This report provides an overview of the structure of the Vaccine Act and the relevant facts of the Bruesewitz case. It then examines the district court and court of appeals decisions before discussing the arguments made by the parties before the Supreme Court. Finally, the report looks at some of the potential consequences that might result from the Court’s decision in favor of either the Bruesewitzes or Wyeth. This report will be updated pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

Date of Report: December 20, 2010
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R41538
Price: $29.95

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