WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court closed the courthouse door Tuesday to parents who want to sue drug makers over claims that their children developed autism and other serious health problems from vaccines. The ruling was a stinging defeat for families dissatisfied with how they fared before a special no-fault vaccine court.
The court voted 6-2 against the parents of a child who sued the drug maker Wyeth in Pennsylvania state court for the health problems they say their daughter, now 19, suffered from a vaccine she received in infancy.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said Congress set up a special vaccine court in 1986 to handle such claims as a way to provide compensation to injured children without driving drug manufacturers from the vaccine market. The idea, he said, was to create a system that spares the drug companies the costs of defending against parents’ lawsuits.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Nothing in the 1986 law “remotely suggests that Congress intended such a result,” Sotomayor wrote, taking issue with Scalia.
Scalia’s opinion was the latest legal setback for parents who felt they got too little from the vaccine court or failed to collect at all.