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RFK Jr.’s Tucker Carlson Interview Promotes Healthy Debate About Vaccine Safety

Published: May 6, 2017
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By Robert J. Krakow of Law Office of Robert J. Krakow, P.C.

To the Daily Kos Blog:

In response to the article you published: Robert F Kennedy, Jr and vaccines – why real journalists don’t interview him” 

Dorit Reiss misses the point on vaccine manufacturer immunity.

While Dorit Reiss may be technically correct in pointing out that vaccine manufacturers don’t have “blanket immunity” from liability to vaccine-injured individuals, her criticism of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s statements to Fox’s Tucker Carlson on these issues misses the point. Vaccine manufacturers do enjoy unprecedented legal protection against design defect claims brought by vaccine injury claimants. Manufacturers also are shielded from discovery by the requirement that vaccine injury claimants must first file their claims with a government compensation program, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The NVICP applies the strictest statute of limitations against claimants who are under the age of majority – 3 years, whereas in most state minors can file claims until they turn 21 years of age. These protections blunt the utility of the legal system for people who are vaccine injured.

The liability protection enjoyed by the vaccine manufacturers has served to allow dismissal of large class actions filed by the vaccine injured. Thus, the most powerful legal tool that allows claimants who individually lack legal firepower, to bring claims as a group, thus mustering the resources to conduct sophisticated investigations, hire the best qualified expert witnesses, and survive onerous legal processes while they extract critical secreted information from the manufacturers. Without class actions, only the wealthiest individual claimants can afford to sue a pharmaceutical giant and take on their high-powered well-financed law firms.

Thus, while it may not technically be “blanket”, Mr. Kennedy’s substantive point about vaccine manufacturer legal protections is powerfully correct: vaccine manufacturers enjoy the greatest legal protection against lawsuits in the history of American jurisprudence.

The examples provided by Ms. Reiss are unavailing. While the vaccine-injured can, technicallly, claim for manufacturing defects, these are almost impossible to pursue unless claimants are privy to the details of the production process. Vaccine manufacturers do not disclose this kind of proprietary information, nor can individual claimants afford to bring claims to investigate manufacturing problems. Unless there is independent monitoring of manufacturing processes that alerts consumers to defects – something that in reality does not exist, the availability of such claims is all but meaningless. 

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