Mar 31 2008

Preponderance of Evidence

I wrote previously about the case of Hanna Poling – whose case was before the vaccine court and was settled by the US government who decided that “compensation was appropriate.” Today in the New York Times Paul Offit, a vaccine and infectious disease expert, wrote a great editorial about the case and its potential for harm to public health.

He made one interesting point, of which I was not aware, and so want to point it out as an addition to my previous post. Offit points out that up until a few years ago the Vaccine Compensation Court, who administers a special fund set up to compensate those legitimately injured by vaccine, used the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence in order to decide compensation cases.

However, now they have lowered the standard. Petitioners no longer need to present evidence that a particular vaccine causes the type of injury alleged, they just have to present a biologically plausible mechanism for possible injury. Even if the evidence suggests the proposed mechanism is wrong, if it is plausible then the court will err on the side of compensation.

Offit argues, I think correctly, that the standard should be returned to preponderance of the evidence. Give his editorial a read.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Preponderance of Evidence”

  1. DevilsAdvocateon 31 Mar 2008 at 12:06 pm

    You’ve just solved my retirement financing problem. First I need to go get as many vaccine shots as possible….

  2. Amon1492on 31 Mar 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Paul Offit’s editorial reinforces my position from your previous Blog posting on the Poling decision. The court’s poor decision to settle the case and citing fault of the vaccines for young Poling’s condition has given more credence to the anti-vaccination group.

    We have seen echoes of the result already in the emotional responses on talk shows, and opinionated news broadcasts. Parents who opt out of vaccinating their children put undue stress on the health of society, as well as risking the health of their children.

  3. Amon1492on 31 Mar 2008 at 1:39 pm

    From the front page of

    ” Some parents believe that thimerosal, a preservative found in childhood vaccines that virtually every child gets, causes autism, because many children were diagnosed after they were vaccinated. But most medical experts increasingly doubt that theory, because even though the chemical has been removed from virtually all vaccines, the number of cases of autism is rising.

    “You remove thimerosal from all but the flu vaccine, which isn’t given to children under 6 months of age, and the incidence of autism only increases. So you just have piece of evidence after piece of evidence after piece of evidence that really disproves this notion,” said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

    Thankfully information from a scientist (Paul Offit again) are made it into the article.

  4. _Arthuron 31 Mar 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Huh, my understanding that the standard “preponderance of evidence” was used to establish a new “Table Injury”.
    Thereafter, for Table Injuries, the lower “plausible” standard is used.

    For example, if your child suffers from a high fever nnn days after a vaccine, and is later diagnosed with a brain impairment, you may receive compensation, with your legal expenses paid by the Vaccines Court wether you make your case or not.

    You only have to present a plausible case.

    Had you sued before a civil court, you would have to pay your own lawyer and experts, very possibly share any award with your lawyers, and you would have to show that the vaccine was either the only possible cause for the fever, or the most likely cause, and that the fever was intense enough to cause brain injury.

    The Vaccines Court has not only a much lower cost, but much lower evidential requirements … for already reckognized vaccines complications.

  5. Christineon 01 Apr 2008 at 12:41 am

    Why should parents or petitioners have to provide the “preponderance of evidence” when next to none of these vaccines have been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, mutagenicity, and for the most part, also potential to impair fertility? Adequate longterm safety tests have not been conducted for vaccines. I would say that the manufacturers and purveyors of these vaccines should be able to vouch for their “safety” (if that is possible), before asking victims of adverse reactions or “events” to provide the “preponderance of evidence”. This is totally insane!

  6. SamWon 02 Apr 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Christine wonders why anyone who develops an illness in temporal relationship to an event should have to provide a “preponderance of evidence” that the event caused the illness, before getting compensation. Has it ever occurred to her that allowing anecdotal associations such as this blows the door wide open? Why should my firend have to present a “preponderance of evidence” that breast implants caused her autoimmune disease or that my cell phone caused my brain cancer? These manufacturers didn’t do any studies to exclude these effects. Come to think of it, my wife suffered from infertility, and she did spend a lot of time on the cell phone! By the way, vaccines are EXTENSIVELY and INTENSIVELY studied for carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, mutagenicity and other health effects before being approved.

  7. kim spenceron 05 Apr 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Gosh, did you all read the NYT article Offit wrote about Hannah Poling? And then did you read what her dad said in today’s edition? The truth is bubbling to the surface and there’s nothing you guys can do about it.

    I said I’d never come back here, but I have to tell you guys that I’ve been doing alot of thinking about the word “complicit.” Will people like you all, meaning doctors and neurologists who spent time arguing that vaccines have nothing to do with autism, be “complicit” in this ruining of a generation? Will the fact that you refused to hear the parents and quite a number of your colleagues and read the science that exists really make you a guilty in this mess? Will you feel guilty? Will you kill yourself? Will you wither away into insanity knowing you could have helped, but instead spent time making life harder for families dealing with this problem you could have solved with your super brains?

    It’s all so sad for you. But you know what’s really sad? The lives of the children you ruined. Because when a protocol is widely accepted, some of them are too damaged to get back.

  8. kim spenceron 07 Apr 2008 at 10:54 pm

    seriously i thought i’d have some response. i guess you know i’m right. maybe you heard about the AJC article that will come out this week like i have. wish i could say i’d see you down under. and i don’t mean Australia.

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