Respectful Insolence

People who follow the antivaccine movement might remember that around this time last year, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), a particularly antiscience legislator who appears to be trying to take up the antivaccine mantle left behind when Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) retired at the end of the last session of Congress. Given that he now chairs the House committee that Burton once chaired, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Issa decided to take up that mantle by following Burton’s lead when he was the chair and scheduled an antivaccine hearing last November, right after Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a mummer’s farce, full of pseudoscience, quackery, and antivaccine rhetoric about how we have to “investigate” the “autism epidemic.” Several months later, those of us who pay attention to these things learned that the hearing had been bought and paid for by the antivaccine movement, to the tune of $40,000 for Darrell Issa’s re-election campaign last year.

Murmurs have been rumbling in the antivaccine underground that there would be another hearing this year around the same time. It turns out that it’s probably been delayed until December, thanks to the government shutdown in October, but it is apparently still on. In fact, I’m getting notices and seeing what the antivaccinationists are saying about it, and it appears that there will be a Congressional briefing tomorrow in preparation for the hearing:

Mary Holland and Rolf Hazlehurst will be featured Thursday at a Congressional briefing at noon in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2203. The event will serve as a preview for the House reform committee hearing next month on the vaccine injury “court,” which Congress created in 1986 and now, for the first time, is taking a look at what it hath wrought. It isn’t pretty. Staffers will get a look at the new video on the court’s dysfunctional functioning, narrated by Rob Schneider, and an even newer one on Gardasil’s damaging but widely dismissed effects on so many young women. Hope to see you there if you’re in town. — Dan Olmsted.

There is a FB event you can read HERE. Please contact your Representative and ask him or her to send a staffer – the directory for Congress is HERE.

Since the 1980s, thousands of children have suffered irreparable injuries or death from federally recommended vaccines. Vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and yet the federal government recommends that children receive 70 doses before age 18. Childhood rates of chronic disease, including autism, ADHD, asthma and severe allergies, are exploding. These disorders cost the nation trillions of dollars. Medical and scientific experts have presented credible evidence linking these disorders and diseases with vaccine injury in the VICP.

Come learn about how this system has become a politicized, arbitrary and capricious program that victimizes those who have suffered from federally recommended vaccines. In a program that Congress intended to be swift, generous and non-adversarial, cases routinely last more than a decade; over 80% of petitions go uncompensated; and Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice flagrantly antagonize families who have suffered catastrophic injuries.

The VICP exhibits manifold failings: the normal rules of civil procedure and evidence don’t apply; Special Masters routinely slash lawyers’ and experts’ fees; the Special Masters, appointed to four-year terms, lack judicial independence; limited science is available to petitioners, although HHS maintains vast databases; there’s no jury of citizen peers; and the government has no burden to prove alternate causation. And these are just some of the problems.

Despite vociferous denials from government and industry, hundreds of published scientific articles highlight the causal links between vaccine injury and the chronic conditions from which today’s children suffer. At this briefing, we will review the fatal flaws in the VICP as a program intended to do justice, and we will review the compelling science linking vaccines and chronic childhood conditions.

Almost a year ago, on November 29, 2012, Congress held its first hearing on the relationship between vaccines and autism in almost ten years. Next month Congress will hold a hearing to investigate the manifest injustice that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is imposing on all those who receive federally recommended vaccines. Those who know vaccine injury firsthand include doctors, nurses, researchers, lawyers, parent advocates – in short, your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We care about our children, and about our country’s future. We know you care too. Please join us.

Congressional Staff Briefing
Nov 7th, 2013
Rayburn House Office Building Room 2203
Time 12:00 pm
1:00pm-2:00pm Panelists available for discussion
Expert Panel
Food & Refreshments

These sorts of briefings are generally not well attended and often only staffers show up, although it’s possible that Darrell Issa might show up. Notice, however, that the two people giving the briefing include Mary Holland, notorious antivaccine lawyer who has skirted research ethics in publishing her “research” by not getting institutional review board approval for a research project involving human subjects. True, it was probably ignorance that led them to fail to get IRB approval before doing human research, but every lawyer knows that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Joining her will be Rolf Hazlehurst, the father of one of the children whose cases were “test cases” before the vaccine court to test whether the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism would fly legally. His child’s case was roundly rejected by the Special Masters of the Vaccine Court. Clearly Holland will provide the antivaccine legal rhetoric, while Hazlehurst will be there for the sympathy factor, to decry what a huge injustice it was that the Vaccine Court found his case wanting, even though the Vaccine Court has some of the most lax rules with regard to scientific evidence I’ve ever seen and, as civil court, only requires a preponderance of evidence. It also pays the legal expenses of the complainants, win or lose.

Particularly hilarious is the intent of Holland to show a video made by The Canary Party and narrated by the latest celebrity antivaccine idiot to make a lot of noise, Rob Schneider. That video was so chock full of misinformation and lies that it has no place before Congress. Well, given the lies that flow from Congress, maybe the video would be right at home there. Still, misinformation and lies such as those contained in the Canary Party/Rob Schneider video don’t belong in any evidence-based argument, even before a Congressional committee.

In any case, I know it’s short notice, but if you live in the DC area and are able, please consider attending this briefing. Regardless of whether you live in the DC area or not, please contact your Representative. At the very least we can make sure that the only voices our Representatives hear with respect to this briefing and the planned Congressional hearing in December don’t come from antivaccine loons. This time around, the Canary Party and the antivaccine movement are clearly out to attack the Vaccine Court. Remember why the Vaccine Court was even necessary in 1986 in the first place: Because bogus lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers were endangering the vaccine supply in the US. Antivaccinationists would like to take us back to those bad old days. They must not succeed.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff1971
    November 6, 2013

    What makes me laugh is how this Mary Holland person claims to be from some legal “center”, as if there is a building somewhere, or an office, or some kind of organization. In fact, it’s one of those classic situations where somebody puts up a website and pretends to be a credible institution.

    Just another scam. I guess she thinks that she is more plausible if she says she is “from” somewhere.

  2. #2 Lawrence
    November 6, 2013

    @Orac – I’d love to attend (depends on my work schedule).

    Any idea if they will allow any other public comments?

  3. #3 Orac
    November 6, 2013

    None at all. But I’d like to know what was discussed, and if people attend and send me reports I’ll try to integrate them into a post on Friday or Saturday.

  4. #4 JKW
    Danville, Tri-state area
    November 6, 2013

    I can’t imagine how anyone would think that bringing Rob Schneider on board as a spokesman would lend credibility. If he was busy, would Miley Cyrus suffice?

  5. #5 Chris Hickie
    November 6, 2013

    Well, I’d like to see them refute this newer study on HPV vaccination: http://sciencenordic.com/no-serious-side-effects-hpv-vaccine

  6. #6 Fuy Gawkes
    November 6, 2013

    If he was busy, would Miley Cyrus suffice?

    The Canard Party probably thinks twerking is a side effect of HPV vaccination.

  7. #7 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    November 6, 2013

    It’s curious that the Republicans are turning on one of their own main ideas, which they refer to as “tort reform.” The idea of the vaccine court, as Orac explains above, is to protect vaccine providers from a flood of frivolous lawsuits. It also allows for the handling of meritorious lawsuits. What it doesn’t seem to provide for is a long series of ruinous lawsuits that are based on nothing at all.

    I don’t actually agree with the Republican position on tort reform, but as is so often the case, when they have something like Romney Care, they attack it anyway.

  8. #8 Chris Hickie
    November 6, 2013

    Vaccine illiteracy spans both sides of the aisle. Consider Gov. Brown’s “religious exemption” check box that he unilaterally used to effectively disable California AB2109 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/11/04/could-california-law-to-boost-vaccine-uptake-end-up-reducing-it/).

  9. #9 LIz Ditz
    November 6, 2013

    ToddW also has a piece on the revised California form

    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com/2013/11/the-new-california-personal-belief.html

  10. #10 LIz Ditz
    Not in Mississippi
    November 6, 2013

    This article that isn’t even “false balance” needs some help in the comments

    http://www.whlt.com/story/23887377/vaccination-debate

    Vaccines do not equal health,” Mississippi Parents of Vaccine Rights Co-Director Lindey Magee said. “If they equaled health, Mississippi would be the healthiest state in our nation, and it’s absolutely not.”

    She said the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 stated parents cannot sue doctors or vaccine manufacturing companies over injuries or death caused by vaccinations.

    “Once that law came abut, vaccine manufacturers got really busy creating new vaccines because they had absolutely nothing to lose,” Magee said. “They have no incentive to make vaccines safe or effective.”

    Since then parents and doctors have debated over vaccines.

  11. #11 AnObservingParty
    November 6, 2013

    Those who know vaccine injury firsthand include doctors, nurses, researchers, lawyers, parent advocates – in short, your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

    Read: Listen to our meaningless anecdotes! We have 10s of people on our side! WAHHHH!

    We need to refute it, and it doesn’t deserve any sort of platform, and those who understand the science need to present the science, but I cannot help but laugh at this. Rob Schneider? Seriously? Plus, the recent outbreaks are fresh in people’s minds. Even a known, hardcore anti-vaccine establishment did a heel-face-turn and opened up vaccination clinics when they were struck with a scourge. That was nation-wide news. I think (hope?) it opened some eyes.

    Plus, there’s this, and I know I can’t people the only person who thinks of it, and pretty much hears it over whenever he speaks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqLUbmpuVw4

  12. #12 lilady
    November 6, 2013

    Issa’s benefactor Jennifer Larson has a special Facebook page up and Brian Hooker is also attending. (He’s a bit miffed about the short notice):

    https://www.facebook.com/events/238042513027624/238042659694276/?notif_t=event_mall_comment

    Why wasn’t Jake Crosby notified?

  13. #13 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    November 6, 2013

    @Liz

    Thanks for sharing my link!

    The VICP exhibits manifold failings: the normal rules of civil procedure and evidence don’t apply;

    Meaning that it is easier to prove your case in VICP than in the regular civil courts.

    Special Masters routinely slash lawyers’ and experts’ fees;

    And then pay them for you, win or lose. Maybe Ms. Holland is upset that she wouldn’t get paid what she wants if she represents a case. At least she’d still get paid, though, at no expense to her clients.

    limited science is available to petitioners, although HHS maintains vast databases;

    So if HHS has access to more science that shows petitioners’ claims have no merit, petitioners should still win just because…why?

    there’s no jury of citizen peers;

    How common are jury trials in civil court? If I’m not mistaken, in civil cases, the right to trial by jury is no guaranteed, though it is in a criminal case.

    and the government has no burden to prove alternate causation.

    Why would they? The petitioner needs to prove that, more likely than not, a vaccine was the proximate cause of injury. If the petitioner cannot do that, why would the government need to show that it could be something else? And if the petitioner does prove that the vaccine was more likely than not the cause, then wouldn’t it be in the petitioner’s favor that there is no burden on the government to prove alternate causation?

  14. #14 thascius
    November 6, 2013

    @13-actually the 7th amendment to the constitution does guarantee a right to a jury in civil trials, if the amount being sued for is over $20. Otherwise I think your comments are completely correct.

  15. #15 Dave W.
    November 6, 2013

    @Todd W.: How common are jury trials in civil court? If I’m not mistaken, in civil cases, the right to trial by jury is no guaranteed, though it is in a criminal case.

    For federal courts, the seventh amendment to the Constitution applies:

    In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    For state courts, your mileage may vary, since the seventh amendment is not one of the amendments that has been incorporated against the states:
    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/incorp.htm

  16. #16 Tom
    USA DC
    November 6, 2013

    @2 Lawrence,

    There’s always time for questions at a briefing. These events are held at noon to give lowly interns a free lunch provided by the sponsoring organization. Senior staff, much less Congress critters, almost never show. Although, briefings don’t really amount to much, it would be fun to sink them in front of an audience, albeit a small one..

  17. #17 Mark
    United States
    November 6, 2013

    hi! I was wondering if there was a website or resource (book) refuting anti-vaccination people like trueorgins.org?

  18. #18 JGC
    November 6, 2013

    The VICP exhibits manifold failings: the normal rules of civil procedure and evidence don’t apply

    If the normal judicial rules did apply, the anti-vax crowd’s heads would likely explode. Forget about now having to prove their case beyond the extent “50% and a feather”? The fact that the lawyer’s and expert witness feeswere no longer guarranteed to be paid by the court but could only be recovered from the defendent should the plaintiff actually prove damage would probably cut the number of cases brought before the NVIC almost to zero.

  19. #19 Eric Lund
    November 6, 2013

    Special Masters routinely slash lawyers’ and experts’ fees

    Considering the low esteem in which lawyers are generally held by anybody who doesn’t have a law degree, I’m not seeing how most people would consider this a bug rather than a feature. Of course, if I were a lawyer or expert witness, I might feel otherwise.

    limited science is available to petitioners, although HHS maintains vast databases

    I suspect “limited science” means anti-vaxers aren’t allowed to selectively use dubious studies which appear to support their position, whereas HHS is allowed to cite thorough studies which support their position. That’s how it’s supposed to work: science presented in court is supposed to meet standards of general acceptance. That’s just as true in regular courts as in the VCIP.

  20. #20 Captian_a
    In legal pergatory
    November 6, 2013

    @17 JGC

    “cut the cases to zero”. You are wrong. You assume that bringing a lawsuit is about the truth and that the truth will prevail. Both assumptions are wrong. Bringing a suit is all about the money and lawyers and wining is about who can argue the best. The facts are, unfortunately, not particularly germane. Understand that a strong science background and critical thinking skills are rare commodities in your average jury pool. Court is no place to have a scientific debate.

    We need the NVIC. We did when it was created, and even more so today.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    November 6, 2013

    Jake is unhappy that the December meeting will be about vaccine court not his pet hobby horse- CDC cover-ups about Hg. ( see AutismInvestigated)

  22. #22 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    November 6, 2013

    Special Masters routinely slash lawyers’ and experts’ fees

    This isn’t even true; the NVICP allow generous compensation for attorneys and experts. They took the Geier boyz to task over some egregious charges because they weren’t experts after all and trying to charge for European holidays as “research expenditures”. I was personally amazed at the compensation they afforded the OAP petitioners’ steering committee’s “experts”.

    This newest joint by anti-vaxx groups isn’t about fairness, they want to see vaccine manufacturers put out of business because the NVICP wasn’t nor isn’t acting as their personal piggy bank. Of course they are shooting themselves in the collective foot as always.

  23. #23 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    November 6, 2013

    Thanks for the corrections, folks, on the jury bit.

    @JGC

    Forget about now having to prove their case beyond the extent “50% and a feather”?

    Actually, the “50% and a feather” would still apply, since this is still civil court, not a criminal case. The difference is that the Daubert Rule would apply, meaning the threshold for scientific evidence and experts is a bit higher. (Again, not a lawyer, so correct me if I’m wrong.)

    the number of cases brought before the NVIC almost to zero

    The number of cases brought before the courts most certainly would not drop. Rather, they’d probably skyrocket, since, if the NVICP were to go bye bye, all those people who would otherwise have failed could just bring suit in the regular courts, where being right wouldn’t necessarily matter. The goal, mind, is to shut down the entire vaccine industry. What would happen is that there would be a drop in people being compensated, wait times for a court date would go up (for everyone, not just vaccine injury claimants), and the likelihood of people who have valid claims getting justice would drop, since they’d be lost in the shuffle of frivolous lawsuits.

  24. #24 JGC
    November 6, 2013

    “Bringing a suit is all about the money and lawyers and wining is about who can argue the best.”

    Which was my point exactly–there’s a cottage indusrty in lawyers who bring cases before the NVIC even with the a priori they have no hope of winning, because they have neither arguments or evidence, let alone the best argument. What they do have is the knowledge that they will be paid for their time whether they win their case or not. If they instead were in the position of accepting clients on contingency, such that they’d only be paid if they won and were awarded damages, far fewer cases would be pursued.

    “We need the NVIC. We did when it was created, and even more so today.”

    If by NVIC you mean the National Vaccine Inury Compensation court, I agree that it’s needed.
    If on the other hand you’re talking about the National Vaccine Information Center, I couldn’t disagree more strongly.

  25. #25 lilady
    November 6, 2013

    IMO, suing in State courts for autism associated with vaccines, may have worked before the tons of studies that found no links, were published.

    Attorneys have their clients/parents sign a contingency fee agreement before they institute lawsuits and an ethical attorney (who also wants to stay in business by refusing obvious no-win cases), wouldn’t touch those “autism associated with vaccines” cases:

    http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/sample-retainer-and-contingency-agreement-for-an-injury-case.html

    http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/sample-retainer-and-contingency-agreement-for-an-injury-case.html

  26. #26 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    November 6, 2013

    From the announcement:

    Despite vociferous denials from government and industry, hundreds of published scientific articles highlight the causal links between vaccine injury and the chronic conditions from which today’s children suffer.

    This has become one of my most reliable “tells” that I’m dealing with a nut: referring to everything from a scientific paper to a blog post as an “article”. How many drive-by loonies here start with “I just noticed this article…” (i.e. blog post)? What causes this, do you think?

  27. #27 Tim Farley
    Atlanta, Georgia
    November 6, 2013

    I have alerted Ed Beck of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy, he says he will endeavor to attend and let us know what happens.

  28. #28 Narad
    November 6, 2013

    Rather, they’d probably skyrocket, since, if the NVICP were to go bye bye, all those people who would otherwise have failed could just bring suit in the regular courts, where being right wouldn’t necessarily matter.

    There are a couple of moving parts here. One is the question of venue. The other is the evidentiary/precedential value that the findings of the Special Masters would have. I suppose the third half is whether anyone would take up such a mess on contingency.

    I’m among those inclined to kick Scalia’s “textual analysis” in Bruesewitz overboard. (I haven’t read Sotomayor’s dissent in quite some time, so I’m not going to invoke it now.) Design defect is not as easy to prove as certain quarters might assume. Naively, this is where one enters into the increasingly popular “vulnerable populations” routine (i.e., Poling, viz., OMGYTOKONDRIA).

    But what is this? A warning defect? That’s no good. A cause of action against the physician for negligence? The latter is the only sabot I’m seeing offhand.

    I would most certainly not extrapolate from some concept of “all those people who would otherwise have failed.” I can discern no shortage whatever of claims that are tossed for simple failure to prosecute after the extension of multiple leniencies.

    So, preempt initial venue, effectively for free, with fact-finding, and see who’s really interested in plausibly concocting better designs afterward. The utterance “vaccines” does not a design defect make.

  29. #29 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    November 6, 2013

    I sure hope someone will call them out on the fact that they can still sue vaccine manufacturers with the existence of the NVICP. It’s obvious what their objective is and any congress critter willing to be paid to give these twits even a moment of their time is equally a twit.

  30. #30 gwen
    November 6, 2013

    Quick tangent… can the homepage ad for Essiac get nuked?

    Or has oxalic acid been approved as a natural cancer supplement/cure to rival baking soda…?

    What about the craptastic “Wholesale Autism Products” and the”Homeopathic ADHD Remedy” shills?

  31. #31 Matt Carey
    United States
    November 6, 2013

    Interesting.

    Remember how the last briefing went? David Kirby made some false statements and was caught by one of Waxman’s staffers.

    This is really short notice. Also, why hold a briefing when they supposedly have a hearing in the bag?

    There are a few possibilities.

    1) Overflow from the hearing. They can’t squeeze everyone into a hearing and they want more people to be seen.

    2) the briefing is for those pushed out of the hearing (doesn’t seem like it’s part of the splinter group)

    3) there won’t be a hearing and they are looking for an alternate victory.

    (2) doesn’t seem right. (1)? Why?

    The hearing was scheduled for the end of the year–what was likely going to be a slow time. Oversight and Congressional Reform recently (and not surprisingly) got on the Obamacare role out band wagon.

    http://oversight.house.gov/release/issa-subpoenas-obamacare-contractor-qssi-healthcare-gov-documents/

    The vaccine hearing, if it happens, is supposed to be in December. Can they squeeze it in? If the hearing was going to be next week, we’d know by now, wouldn’t we? Congress is in session the week after that. Then they are on Thanksgiving recess. Then two weeks in December and then congress is out. That’s two weeks in December. Oversight typically holds one, maybe 2 hearings a week. Last year Oversight only held one hearing in December. http://oversight.house.gov/calendar/?month=-11

    Sure, the hearing may happen. But I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s going to be tough to fit it in. If it does, I hope Issa and everyone else discloses their special interest contributions.

  32. #32 Dorit
    November 7, 2013

    Narad, I read it as a design defect claim, and like you, agree it would be a hard claim to make.
    As to your critic of Scalia’s Bruesewitz’ decision – I don’t know that I buy his methodology, but I agree with his result, though I’d probably draw on Breyer’s concurrence more. I think they’re right that Congress was not embodying the “unavoidably unsafe” language in the act in the way the plaintiff argued, and if anything, was adopting the principle of comment k that manufacturers should not be liable for inherent risks.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    November 7, 2013

    Sure, the hearing may happen. But I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s going to be tough to fit it in.

    When you’re buying congressional hearings there is always the possibility that some other campaign contributor will come up with a larger bid.

  34. #34 Ken
    November 7, 2013

    @31, @33: Plus, this is Issa. If he’s only got time for one hearing, he’ll prefer to do something on his “impeach Obama” list. Like Benghazi, or maybe Benghazi, or he may have some new revelations about Benghazi.

    (It’s similar to that scene in Being John Malkovich where Malkovich goes through the door, except instead of all speech becoming “Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich” it becomes “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi”.)

  35. #35 Anne
    November 7, 2013

    Re the jury trials, the vaccine cases are heard in the Court of Federal Claims (formerly the Court of Claims). It’s a specialized federal court that handles claims for money against the US government, such as suits by government contractors and employees, taxpayers and Indian tribes. The court has existed since 1855. There are no jury trials in that court, and there never were. The vaccine act didn’t create a special “no jury” court just to screw VICP claimants. It just gave jurisdiction over these VICP claims against the US government to the court for government claims.

  36. #36 Lawrence
    November 7, 2013

    I’m absolutely sure that these individuals have no idea how much a Civil Trial costs – and how prepared Corporations are to use all of the means at their disposal (including all of the various delaying tactics and motion filings they would have access to) to drag these potential suits out for decades……

    Look how long the Wakefield Debacle has dragged on down in Texas….and that isn’t even a trial, just a hearing of motions! That’s what these people want?

    These people are, in fact, crazy.

  37. #37 Antaeus Feldspar
    November 7, 2013

    Remember how the last briefing went? David Kirby made some false statements and was caught by one of Waxman’s staffers.

    Details? I tried to Google for more information and came up with references to it happening but no details/documentation.

    I also came up with David Kirby’s Wikipedia bio and can’t help but notice that it seems to be missing anything to suggest that he might not be an Awesome, For-Real Journalist except that one of his books got a bad review. Seems to me that if that incident of Kirby telling porkies to Congress ever made it into print, it might belong in his bio…

  38. #38 Dorit
    November 7, 2013

    Lawrence, to reinforce your point, here’s a case previously cited by Ms. HOlland herself where someone actually injured by a vaccine chose to go through the regular courts rather than NVICP (he was in the transition period and actually had a choice): http://www.courts.state.ny.us/REPORTER/3dseries/2010/2010_50255.htm
    Mr. Tenuto, previously referenced by Orac. He was injured in 1979 – final deposition in 2010. Is that really what they want for those with legitimate vaccine injuries?

  39. #39 Dorit
    November 7, 2013

    If anyone is interested – according to the last report we have, which unfortunately is from 2005: “Among tort trials, plaintiffs were most likely to win in cases involving an animal attack (75%), followed by motor vehicle accident (64%), asbestos (55%), and intentional tort (52%) cases. Plaintiffs had the lowest percentage of wins in medi- cal malpractice trials (23%), product liability trials that did not involve asbestos (20%), and false arrest or imprison- ment trials (16%), compared to plaintiffs in other tort cases. ” http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cbjtsc05.pdf

    NVICP had 13077 claims file and compensated 3412 since it started, for a rate of 26% – higher than the non-asbestos product liability claims. And asbestos is an unusual case. Product liability claims are just hard. Design defect claims are even harder.

  40. #40 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    November 7, 2013

    @ Dorit, they (i.e. anti-vaxxers) don’t care; they want someone to “pay for their suffering” and pestering vaccine manufacturers so that they leave the business would be a win for them. They are selfish and self-defeating; they begrudge those who have successfully won an NVICP claim.

  41. #41 Matt Carey
    November 7, 2013

    #37: “Details? I tried to Google for more information and came up with references to it happening but no details/documentation.”

    Here’s a discussion:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2008/09/26/vaccines-on-the-hill-iii/

    Here’s the “Dear colleague” letter that Waxman’s office sent out after the hearing
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2008/10/02/good-information-being-spread-on-capital-hill/

    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2009/07/16/congress-says-no-to-misleading-autism-information/

  42. #42 Dorit
    November 7, 2013

    According to the people at the briefing, hearing scheduled for December 4, at this point.

  43. #43 Chris,
    November 7, 2013

    Tim Farley posted on Doubtful News that it was live tweeted:
    https://twitter.com/dedwardbeck

  44. #44 Jason
    November 7, 2013

    I wonder where the doctors, scientists, and mouthpieces for the CDC are. You know…they people actually qualified to have an opinion about vaccines.

  45. #45 Dorit
    November 7, 2013

    @ Jason: I don’t think they were invited to this briefing. Maybe they will be to the actual hearing.

  46. #46 Iseeyour
    November 7, 2013

    Niiice trolling you got there internets.

  47. #47 Matt Carey
    November 8, 2013

    Some new hearings are on the calendar today. Issa’s chance at Obamacare is next week. So unless he wants multiple hearings, that’s over. The next day they have

    “”Reviewing Alternatives to Amtrak’s Annual Losses in Food and Beverage Service””

    Which sounds to me like they don’t have a lot of high profile topics for hearings to the end of the year.

    So, the competition for the vaccine hearing seems low.

    Maybe they can get Andrew Wakefield to talk and he can answer why he lied to a previous Oversight committee. When asked how his work was funded, he said they have a little charity. No mention of being funded by attorneys.

  48. #48 Matt Carey
    November 8, 2013

    Mr. Burton. Who funded your study, Dr. Wakefield?
    Dr. Wakefield. We did. We have a small charitable
    contribution, but—-
    Mr. Burton. A charitable organization did; I see.
    Dr. Wakefield. We found it a little difficult to get
    funding—-

    That’s how Andrew Wakefield characterized money from attorneys, including hundreds of dollars an hour to himself.

    It was a little difficult to get funding? He had a funding source (including his expert witness fee) worked out before any of the kids walked in the door.

    He didn’t, you will notice, say, “this wasn’t a study”

  49. #49 Matt Carey
    November 8, 2013

    Let’s not forget Dr. O’Leary’s statements…

    Dr. O’Leary. Sir, can I make a comment, please? What I
    presented is evidence, direct evidence, cell-based and tube-
    based. It was done at a separate laboratory from Dr.
    Wakefield’s.
    If Professor Taylor has a beef with me, he should say that.
    My work is completely independent. I stand over it. I have come
    here to tell the truth. There is nothing for me to be gained in
    not telling the truth.

    Completely independent? O’Leary was a business partner with Wakefield.

    From Brian Deer’s BMJ articles

    Carmel was registered in the Irish Republic, where Wakefield would also become a director of another business. This was Unigenetics Ltd, incorporated in February 1999 with a Dublin pathologist, John O’Leary. After Wakefield submitted a confidential report to the Legal Aid Board,36 Unigenetics was awarded—without checks—£800 000 of taxpayers’ money 28 to perform polymerase chain reaction tests on bowel tissue and blood samples from children passing through Malcolm ward.

    I’d love to have a copy of the dictionary they used. business partner=completely independent.

  50. #50 vac-safety
    NC
    January 16, 2014

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/466/236/380/congress-dont-postpone-vaccine-injury-hearings-any-longer/

    If there’s nothing to hide, then why not have the hearings? If things can be made better, why not try?

    Is it better to be safe or sorry?

    Who needs a study to understand that overloading the immune system of a child can result in any number of breakdowns to a child’s system? A vaccine a child gets is not the only stress on the immune system that child will get in one day. Pesticides, household cleaning products, laundry scents in his sheets and clothes and just polluted air and food all take a toll .The poisoning of our environment has increased over time and much more since vaccines began. It might not be the vaccines, but the cumulative assault. We need to make everything less toxic, and maybe cut down on the vaccines that aren’t absolutely necessary. – or alter the schedule – or cut out some of the unnecessary and toxic ingredients. IT WILL NOT HURT to discuss this issue.
    Apparently many are being hurt because we are not taking a common sense approach to it now.

    The tobacco industry continued to poison the public (mainly due to ITS additives) by creating controversy. It funded studies that found harm and no harm because as it admitted, “Our Product is Doubt.” (Proctor’s “Cancer Wars”)

    We are all one – and it seems the honest people on both sides of this argument want to save lives. But in between are the profiteers whose job it is to create doubt. We must find the truth. Studies are manipulated every day.

  51. #51 novalox
    January 16, 2014

    @vac-safety

    So, got any actual scientific evidence for your assertions, or are you just putting up more blanket assertions?

    Also, have you ever heard, “The dose is the poison?”

  52. #52 Narad
    January 16, 2014

    We need to make everything less toxic, and maybe cut down on the vaccines that aren’t absolutely necessary

    Which ones do you endorse?

  53. #53 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 16, 2014

    This from the link provided:

    There is plenty of controversy over the autism to vaccine link, a lot of it based on Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s recently vindicated research, and an earlier “Omnibus” ruling by the compensation program.

    [snort] I’m sure the mention of that name will do wonders for the petitions credibility. You have fun with that “vac-safety”.

  54. #54 Chemmomo
    Land Without Preview
    January 16, 2014

    vac-safety @50

    But in between are the profiteers whose job it is to create doubt.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that your entire third paragraph does nothing but create doubt?

  55. #55 lilady
    January 16, 2014

    vac-safety posted the link to that petition on AoA earlier today.

    Don’t know if this petition will help Congress act faster, but it could help get the word out.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/466/236/380/congress-dont-postpone-vaccine-injury-hearings-any-longer/

    Posted by: vac-safety | January 16, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Where has Congressman Darrell Issa posted the updated 2014 fees for buying a Congressional hearing? Jennifer Larson’s $30,000 donations were supposed to be sufficient to buy the last Congressional hearing, yet the hearing was “indefinitely postponed”.

  56. #56 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    January 16, 2014

    Ahem lilady, that would be $40K to buy some pretty lies in 2013.

  57. #57 lilady
    January 16, 2014

    $ 40 K ? I must have missed some of Larson’s contributions.

    vac-safety’s link still shows only 31 people who have signed that petition (goal is 5,000 signatures).

  58. #58 Denice Walter
    January 16, 2014

    In other anti-vax ( non) news:

    AoA links to Teri Arranga’s interview with Brian Hooker wherein he re-iterates every anti-vax trope you’ve ever heard… and then some… for 55 minutes!
    What I endure for scepticism.
    …new research papers… cover-up… Geiers.. mercury….etc.

    I imagine that Jake has his dissertation topic now

  59. #59 herr doktor bimler
    January 16, 2014

    But in between are the profiteers whose job it is to create doubt.
    We have cats with more self-awareness than that.

  60. #60 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 16, 2014

    If there’s nothing to hide, then why not have the hearings?

    Let’s put you on trial for murder. I mean, if you didn’t do it, then what’s the harm in having a trial and making you prove your innocence, of a crime for which there is no good evidence of your guilt?

    If things can be made better, why not try?

    That’s an extremely vaguely worded question; you’re forcing us to essentially guess at what you’re trying to imply by it.

    If what you are trying to communicate is, essentially, “Surely our current vaccine practices are not already 100% perfect; surely there is something we can be doing to improve them. Why don’t we bring it before Congress, in hopes that Congress will know (better than people who actually have medical knowledge, who have been studying vaccines for their entire careers) just what should be done to improve vaccine practices?” then the answer is quite obviously “because those hopes are absurd.”

    Is it better to be safe or sorry?

    Again, it’s almost as if you’re trying to be vague as possible. The adage is “better to be safe than sorry,” but who are you to say that minimal usage of vaccines corresponds to “safe” and our current schedule corresponds to “sorry”?

    Earlier, I suggested that maybe we should put you on trial for murder, even though we have no good evidence indicating your guilt. Well, wouldn’t locking you up, just in case my random guessing is right and you are a heartless homicidal maniac, be an example of “safe rather than sorry”?

    But you know, that analogy isn’t perfect. Why? Well, because even if you have children of your own, the chances are almost nil that they’re going to die because you’ve been locked up. By contrast, if we deny American children the protection of vaccines, until such time as the impossible feat of quelling every last fear mongered by antivaxxers has been achieved, there will be deaths, deaths that could have been prevented.

    Who needs a study to understand that overloading the immune system of a child can result in any number of breakdowns to a child’s system?

    Prior to Galileo, someone might well have said “Who needs a study to understand that heavier objects fall faster than light objects?” But in fact, outside of wind resistance, heavier objects don’t fall faster than light objects. So it was exactly those people who said “Who needs a study?” that did, in fact, need a study, to tell them what assumptions they were making that were wholly wrong. If you want to claim that vaccines are in any way ‘overloading’ the immune systems of children, you need evidence to show that that’s the case. Merely saying “It seems obvious to me!” isn’t good enough, because false things can seem very, very obvious until they’re exposed as false.

    A vaccine a child gets is not the only stress on the immune system that child will get in one day. Pesticides, household cleaning products, laundry scents in his sheets and clothes and just polluted air and food all take a toll .

    Even if all of the above were true – that all of the above factors are stressors large enough to even minimally impact the immune system of the average child – why on Earth would you want to start by cutting out the vaccines that give them literally life-saving protection? Why the hell aren’t you starting your crusade against laundry scents?

    The poisoning of our environment has increased over time and much more since vaccines began.

    [citation needed]. Haven’t you figured out yet that just because you assert something doesn’t make it true? I could assert that everywhere you go, you poison the air with your breath – but would that make it true?

    It might not be the vaccines, but the cumulative assault.

    And yet you can’t even produce any evidence that vaccines are any kind of ‘assault’ to the system. You simply want us to believe it because you speculate it to be the case. “It might not be that vac-safety’s breath alone causes agony and death; it might be vac-safety’s breath on top of the stress caused by their body odor.” No, I’m trying to offend you; I’m trying to make the point that you can’t just go point the finger at a suspect first, and then figure out afterwards how the evidence might be sorted in a way that makes them look guilty. As long as nobody asks uncomfortable questions like “do you actually have any proof of this assumption on which your entire case depends?”, that is.

    We need to make everything less toxic, and maybe cut down on the vaccines that aren’t absolutely necessary.

    Yeah, you know where we’ve heard that before? From the mercury militia who swore up and down that it was the trace mercury compounds used as preservatives in multi-dose vaccine vials that caused all autism. They swore that once we made vaccines “less toxic” by taking out thimerosal, that autism would virtually disappear. We’d see, they said, and once it became clear that they were right all along and we were wrong, we’d be ashamed that we had, you know, asked for evidence for their assertions, instead of just trusting that they were correct (I don’t know off-hand if any of them phrased it as “who needs a study?” but I’d be surprised if none did.)

    Guess what? The thimerosal came out and instead of autism rates going down – which was supposed to be the proof they were right – the rates of autism diagnosis continued upwards. And the mercury militia couldn’t even admit they had been wrong! Some of them concocted bizarre theories about how cremations of people with dental amalgams and power plant emissions from China (which had never been considered as factors before) were somehow now increased at such a rate that it wholly outweighed the removal of thimerosal. Some of them simply denied reality, and invented conspiracy theories that maybe the mercury had secretly been left in the vaccines and the eeeebil gub’mint was just plain lying when they said it had been taken out. (By a similar process of “logic” one can also reach the conclusions that Elvis is alive, Paul McCartney dead, and all major world leaders reptilian humanoids.)

    And you think that giving these people the ear of Congress is going to result in correct action being taken? Really??

    – or alter the schedule – or cut out some of the unnecessary and toxic ingredients.

    Oh, those “toxic ingredients”. Tell me, what do you think the “toxic ingredients” in vaccines are? ‘Cause if you say “mercury” I’m gonna cut to the chase and horselaugh in your face right now. If you add “antifreeze” and “aborted fetal cells” then congrats, you win the Stupid and Gullible Trifecta.

    IT WILL NOT HURT to discuss this issue.

    Pffft. No, it never hurts to let known liars talk to legislative bodies and try to get them to change the law of the land in order to protect against largely imaginary threats.

    SAID NO HISTORIAN. EVER.

    Apparently many are being hurt because we are not taking a common sense approach to it now.

    Apparent to whom, Bunky?? When will it get through your thick head that “this is what I think” is not a suitable substitute for “this is what’s real”? Recently I’ve been reading about the abominable treatment of Chinese immigrants to this country in the late 19th and early 20th century, and I can’t help but hear your rhetoric being used to justify the appalling racist actions of the times. “Apparently the white race is in horrible danger of being overrun by the Chinese, because we are not taking the common sense approach of banning immigration. It won’t hurt to talk about passing laws that discriminate on the basis of race; who needs a study to understand how letting these Chinese onto our shores is the cause of all our current economic problems?”

    [blah, blah, blah, freakin' idiotic blather skipped] We must find the truth. Studies are manipulated every day.

    Oh, lovely. Hey, fellow Draconis-ites! Who wants to bet that those last two sentences, translated, mean “we must ignore any studies that don’t point to any harms from vaccines, calling them rigged, while studies that we know to be rigged, like Wakefield’s, we’ll trust completely so long as they condemn vaccines”?

  61. #61 brian
    January 16, 2014

    @ Denice Walter

    I’m wondering how an “epidemic of autism” can be explained by having one case of ASD reported for every 430,000 doses of a thimerosal-containing vaccine, but I suppose that this will seem like big news to some.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    January 16, 2014

    @ brian:

    Oh, I know.

    @ Antaeus:

    About that Mercury Militia-
    alive and well it seems. Hooker seems to think that the thimerisol in flu vaccines, pre-natally esp, is the culprit. He goes on and on.( see AoA today for a link)
    That interview is da bomb!
    But not in a good way.

  63. #63 brian
    January 16, 2014

    A vaccine a child gets is not the only stress on the immune system that child will get in one day

    Indeed.
    For example, neonates are quickly colonized by toxin-producing bacteria such as Clostridium species. Although Jenny McCarthy seems fond of injections of C. botulinum toxin injections, you might wonder if neonates are at more risk from injection with a few noninfectious proteins or from the production of toxins from bacteria such as C. perfringens (gas gangree), C. botulinum (paralysis, such as McCarthy enjoys from her facial injections), C. difficile (often fatal diarrheal disease) etc. Toxin-producing Clostridum quickly colonize the infant gut (such “toxins” should be distinguished from the “toxin” that anti-vaxxers frequently cite without understanding the definition of “toxin”)

    So, yes, infants clearly experience other “stresses on the immune system” but anti-vaxxers have never established why vaccines trump such stressors.

  64. #64 Shay
    I saw what you did
    January 16, 2014

    There you go, brian, getting all science-y on us. Why let facts ruin a perfectly good conspiracy theory?

  65. #65 I. Rony Meter
    January 16, 2014

    Brian Hooker lives in California, where vaccines given to pregnant women don’t contain thimerosal. Autism rates as measured by CDDS numbers and special education roles are still rising.

    And vaccine uptake by pregnant women is low.

    But why start challenging his preconceived notions now?

  66. #66 I. Rony Meter
    January 16, 2014

    “great” comment on AoA for the Hooker interview:

    “Grass roots — will it be allowed to be a bloodless grass root effort?”

    As they get further and further into the fringe, they get more and more shrill.

  67. #67 Narad
    January 16, 2014

    vac-safety’s link still shows only 31 people who have signed that petition (goal is 5,000 signatures).

    Hey, it’s up to 35. I wonder what happens if you “send a ☆” to somebody.

  68. #68 lilady
    January 16, 2014

    I swear, if I have to listen to one more radio interview for the sake of science, my head is going to explode.

    The Geiers, Hooker and Sykes are still producing baloney from their sausage factory…

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=geier+hooker+sykes+geier

  69. #69 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    January 16, 2014
  70. #70 Narad
    January 17, 2014

    The Geiers, Hooker and Sykes are still producing baloney from their sausage factory…

    It’s cute that “the Rev” can’t spell “verizon.” That thing is an editorial catastrophe.

  71. #71 Narad
    January 17, 2014

    “The method employed to examine VAERS ensured that the exposures to the various types of vaccines studied occurred prior to the outcomes described in the adverse event reports, since those reporting the subsequent adverse outcomes in association with the vaccines listed on the adverse event reports.”

    Um, OK.

  72. #72 Helianthus
    January 17, 2014

    @ Vac-Safety

    Did you took a wrong turn in the Interwebs? There are more recent threads on vaccines.

    If there’s nothing to hide

    Oh, I know this one. It’s called “play chicken”: Let’s do whatever silly thing I want you to do.

    then why not have the hearings?

    Yeah, let’s ignore all the previous hearings/debates/studies and start from scratch again. Maybe this time reality will be on our side.

    We need to make everything less toxic, and maybe cut down on the vaccines

    Cue my favorite analogy.
    A drunkard who is on a bottle of booze a day decides to cut on his alcohol consumption. He will not take his cough syrup, there is alcohol in it. Well, there is something ending in “-ol”.

  73. #73 AnObservingParty
    January 17, 2014

    35 signatures–still–after being posted at the very epicenter of antivaccinationism? Where are the millions of parents with “damaged children?”

    Vac-safety, they were looked at. The discussion has been had, which interesting enough, was based off a manipulated study, the author of which appears in your petition. So yes, studies are falsified, you’re right there. My point, however, is that it was discussed, it is continously discussed, schedules are continously examined. Which, pray tell, vaccines aren’t necessary? I mean, we don’t get things like japanese encephalitis, or rabies, because they aren’t a risk…so what other vaccines should we not get because you deem them “unneccessary?” What you don’t like about the discussions that happen is that the facts don’t point to the conclusion you want, so you resort to scare tactics and buzzwords.

    Maybe by tonight it will be up to 40!

  74. #74 lilady
    January 19, 2014

    @vac-safety: Your petition for rescheduling of that indefinitely postponed Congressional hearing now has 41 signatures/comments, including this one:

    “Ms. Typhoid Mary, NY
    Jan 16, 19:09
    # 35
    I find it outrageous that so-called “public health” nannies are infringing upon my constitutional right to be employed as a cook, just as is happening with nurses. It’s about time that the veil was lifted from this game of shadows.”

    I just finished listening to Teri Arranga’s Brian Hooker interview (all 55 minutes). That first scientific paper published on line authored by Geier, Hooker, Sykes and Geier is the first in a series; there are at least 3 more “in the pipeline”, according to Hooker.

  75. #75 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    January 19, 2014

    Even though that’s pretty funny, I don’t approve of the tactic of using fake signatures to undermine petitions, personally.

  76. #76 lilady
    January 19, 2014

    Julian Frost: It is funny; it wasn’t me who did the deed, though. :-)

  77. #77 Denice Walter
    January 19, 2014

    @ lilady:

    Right, four papers in all- did you notice in which publication the first one appeared? Heh.
    Now we know what Jake’s dissertation will entail.

  78. #78 Julian Frost
    January 19, 2014

    lilady, I wasn’t accusing you. I just strongly disapprove of such tactics.

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