7.1. A CASE HISTORY - GOVERNMENT TRUST ACCOUNT.
National Vaccine Program
A Case History
Government regulation to ensure vaccination - a Bad Experience.
Reference to article: Attorney Cliff Shoemaker
The year 1986. Elizabeth was a bright happy baby at 2 months when she had a routine vaccination. I can still remember the high pitch scream that kept up for several hours after vaccination. My doctor informed me that it was just over reacting to a normal situation. Her second vaccination took place at 4.5 months and she had every indication of being a normal healthy baby up to this time. On the same day of her second vaccination she had her first seizure, although I did know that this is what it was at the time. I called the doctor and he said it was "growing pains".
"Stop worrying" he told me. Over the next three weeks or so, there were more seizures accompanied by a decline in function. She could no longer sit or use her left hand. I KNEW that despite what the Doctor was telling me that Elizabeth had a serious medical problem. We took her to the emergency ward of the hospital in our district and they said it was a virus. "Go home and stop worrying" was their advice. When we got home, Elizabeth had a seizure and stopped breathing and was taken to the Intensive Care Unit at the Hospital. The Doctor advised us that Elizabeth's condition was too complicated for him to treat. It began to unfold that vaccination was the cause. One of the treating doctors suggested that "Sometimes one cow has to be sacrificed for the goodness of the herd.
The Government process:
We filed our petition in 1990. Under the National Childhood Vaccination Act, it was not a lawsuit and was not intended to be litigious; although in going through the process it certainly feels that way. The Compensation Act is intended for a parent to go through the process without a lawyer. This is by no means the case and we found it very important to have a solicitor representing Elizabeth. There are two phases to the process. The first is to establish eligibility and the second is settlement. The first phase was simple with the Court assessing the information provided by all parties and ruling that she was eligible. The second phase was awful.
The Act covers those expenses that relate only to the vaccination. We were required to engage a life care planner who assessed the care requirements for Elizabeth. The Government also hires a life care planner who too prepares a plan. Payment starts from the date of settlement and the Government at the outset sought to delay the process for what seems to be obvious - reducing their liability. Our solicitor was a really nice guy and could not believe that anyone could act irresponsibly so the situation dragged on for several years, before we decided to change attorneys with significant results.
In 1995 the Government lawyer, the home care expert and the settlement manager paid us a visit at our home in Oklahoma. The purpose of this visit was to intimidate. The Government revealed their care plan and we were told to accept or they would exercise further delay tactics to ensure that several more years passed prior to settlement. Our concerns were what would happen to Elizabeth if we died. The Government offered to place her in a private institution that had dirty brick rooms, barb wire exterior similar to a bad nursing home in your worst nightmare. The mentally disabled are to be served in the community. (Hissom Case). What we wanted was a supported,caring living arrangement similar to a group home, but with a higher staff to client ratio.
Later this year the Government paid another visit with the aim to assessing Elizabeth whilst the family was not around and without the consent of the family whilst she was being taken to special school. It was only the school staff that prevented this from happening. We found it absolutely essential to have a lawyer present at all times when being interviewed as the Government employees tend to distort whatever is said to their own benefit and to discredit what we said. This applies as well to any medical examination. Elizabeth's neurologist even became a witness for the Government because in his own words his services were being paid for by the Government. The Government informed our life planner that if it was recommended by our planner that we engage a qualified nurse to administer medicines and care, the planner would be banned from providing further services to government.
Things became so bad between all parties that the Special Master of the Court had to step down from the case as she could no longer remain unbiased. In 1996 we received a decision from the Court in favor of Elizabeth.
ú A National Vaccine Injury Fund was set up by the Federal Government in 1986 to compensate the victims of vaccinations gone wrong. To date US$860 million has been paid out in compensation. (Approx A$1.2 billion)
ú There have been 579 deaths adjudicated through the Federal Court of Claims since the inception of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program in 1986 of which 227 were misdiagnosed as SIDS.
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