Regulation Archives

Supreme Court Case May Wipe Out Vaccine Industry

By Michael Fumento

Back when Congress knew how to pass good legislation, in this case in the mid-1980s, it took most cases involving vaccine liability out of the normal court system and put them in a special vaccine court where science and medicine would rule instead of the whims of scientifically and medically ignorant juries.

That's because vaccine companies were going the way of the woolly mammoth, in part because it's just not a very profitable business and in great part because they were awash in over $3.5 billion of lawsuits claiming little more than the post hoc fallacy of "Before the person was vaccinated her or she was fine and since the vaccination he or she became sick." Seriously.

If certain people in black robes make the wrong decision, this guy in a black robe will need to be paid overtime.

Even as it dramatically cut spurious claims, it helped persons who really had suffered from adverse reactions both by cutting litigation costs and by taking them outside of "roulette wheel" justice wherein a case might net a reward of millions while a virtually identical one would be rejected entirely.

But as I write at Forbes.com, this system itself is now endangered by a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are claiming that having lost their case in Vaccine Court that rather than appeal within that system they should be able to try the case in state or federal court. And Congress did allow for some such exceptions.

But no, not this one. It's very clear from the history of what led up to the statute that Congress did not want cases such as these to bypass the system. Why? In part as one court found, it could to a great extent destroy that very system. I provide other arguments. If we lose this system many, many children will not get their vaccines until something else is instituted. And many will die.

October 27, 2010 10:53 AM  ·  Permalink

A tort reform advocate's dream, my article in Forbes.com

By Michael Fumento

It's a tort reform advocate's dream - meaning a defendant's worst nightmare.

As I write in my Forbes.com article "California Trial Lawyers Find A Geezer Goldmine," the class action suit was based entirely on wording so tortuous that the nine members of the Supreme Court would have 10 different interpretations. An earlier case in the same state was tossed out because of that wording. Yet this defendant was slammed with a massive $671 million penalty, vastly beyond its ability to pay. And punitive damages are still pending. And the decision caused the defendant's stock value to plummet 75%.

"Thar's gold in them thar nursing homes!"

Oh, and just one other thing. The very size of the verdict effectively prevents an appeal. But besides all that . . .

This is the inner layer of hell in which Skilled Healthcare California LLC finds itself. The nation's 10th largest nursing care provider, it has 14,000 workers in California alone, making it one of the largest employers in a state with the third-worst jobless rate in America.

They won't be better off because of this decision, and may well be much worse off.

What horrors did the company inflict on those poor seniors to deserve the highly penalty awarded by any court this year? Convert them to Soylent Green? Actually no showing of harm was required - a blessing for the plaintiffs' attorneys because the California Nursing Home Directory has received over a thousand complaints but none regarding Skilled Healthcare.

This is the most amazingly awful court decision I have ever written about - which is saying a lot.

July 29, 2010 09:33 AM  ·  Permalink