Nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children.
The vaccine lawsuit hearings resume this week in the federal vaccine court, otherwise known as the the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The court is looking at the test cases of two autistic boys from Portland, Oregon. Their families believe their autism resulted directly from exposure to thimerosal, a mercury preservative found in the children's childhood vaccines.
Government officials and many scientists insist there’s nothing about vaccines that can lead to autism.
The vaccine court administers a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims. Lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers are not filed in state or federal civil courts, but instead must be heard in the Court of Claims, which arrives at a verdict without a jury.
The program was established by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA).
If the court rules in favor of the families, they could be eligible for compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, established by the NCVIA to safeguard manufacturers from lawsuits and thus ensure an adequate supply of vaccines.
To date, the federal vaccine court has already paid out $750 million for vaccine injuries, but this will be the first time they have tried an autism case.