Last week, Green & Schafle vaccine lawyer David Carney went to trial on behalf of his client who suffered a severe attack of Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving her annual flu shot. The trial took place in the United States Court of Federal Claims, which is located in Washington, D.C. and has jurisdiction over all vaccine-related injury claims arising out of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Vaccine claims are defended by the Department of Health and Human Services, which is represented by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mr. Carney’s client experienced a complicated medical history where she suffered from syncopal episodes, diabetes and cerebrovascular issues leading up to the day she received her flu vaccine. At the time she received her flu shot, she was hospitalized due to a recent syncopal episode that resulted in a fall down the steps. However, it was not until three to four weeks later that she began to experience classic symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) consisting of weakness, numbness and tingling in her extremities. She was admitted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center and worked up, diagnosed and treated for Guillain-Barre Syndrome due to her recent influenza vaccine. After discharge, she was readmitted approximately six weeks later with a worsening of her condition and was diagnosed with a worsening GBS and treated again with IVIG therapy for several days.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a catastrophic autoimmune disease that occurs in one to two out of every 100,000 people. It is a rapidly evolving paralytic disease that starts with numbness, tingling and weakness in either the upper or lower extremities and as it progresses, can cause severe and catastrophic breathing difficulties requiring intubation. Hospitalization is required so that testing through a spinal tap or EMG can be performed and treatment through immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG). While GBS is often thought to be monophasic, involving one single attack on the body, it can result in a relapse or worsening within six to eight weeks after onset. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has recognized that the influenza vaccine (flu shot) is presumed to cause GBS if the onset of GBS occurs between 3 and 42 days after the influenza vaccine.
The Department of Justice aggressively contested the case on the basis that the diagnosis of GBS was incorrectly made despite two separate neurologists on two different admissions agreeing on the diagnosis of GBS. The DOJ also argued that the symptoms Mr. Carney’s client experienced after vaccination were likely related to her complicated medical course of diabetes and diabetic neuropathy that she was experiencing prior to the flu vaccine.
The trial consisted of expert testimony from both Mr. Carney’s medical experts and experts from the Department of Justice. Additional post-trial motions are required in this case, after which a decision will be issued by the Court. This case and trial continues to highlight the importance of hiring a skilled trial lawyer who regularly and routinely litigates vaccine injury cases since this area of law is highly specialized, requires a dense knowledge of the underlying science, and often requires the attorney prepare and win at trial in order to obtain compensation. Mr. Carney continues to stress that those searching for a vaccine attorney must due their due diligence to ensure the attorney they hire are trial lawyers, are intimately involved in leadership with the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association, and have access to the best medical and scientific experts to support your case.
At Green & Schafle, our licensed vaccine attorney, David J. Carney, has over 12 years of experience litigating vaccine cases in the United States Court of Federal Claims, and he has been the Vice President of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association (the legal association dedicated to representing those injured by vaccines) since 2019. He regularly prosecutes challenging and catastrophic vaccine injuries to trial and works with the most renowned medical experts at some of the top institutions (Yale, Stanford, University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and others) across the country. Mr. Carney routinely takes challenging cases and rare diseases to trial, and our vaccine attorneys will accommodate you at every phase, will travel to meet with you about your case so that you feel invested and educated about the vaccine process, and will waste no time prosecuting your case to resolution.