Shalala v. Whitecotton, 514 U.S. 268, 4 (1995)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  Next

Cite as: 514 U. S. 268 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

lated to the administration of the vaccine . . . ." 300aa- 13(a)(1)(B). If the Secretary fails to rebut, the claimant is entitled to compensation. 42 U. S. C. 300aa-13(a)(1) (1988 ed. and Supp. V).

Respondents, Margaret Whitecotton and her parents, filed a claim under the Act for injuries Margaret allegedly sustained as a result of vaccination against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (or DPT) on August 18, 1975, when she was nearly four months old. They alleged that Margaret (whom we will refer to as claimant) had suffered encephalopathy after the DPT vaccination, and they relied on the table scheme to make out a prima facie case. The Act defines encephalopathy as "any significant acquired abnormality of, or injury to, or impairment of function of the brain," 42 U. S. C. 300aa-14(b)(3)(A), and lists the condition on the Vaccine Injury Table in association with the DPT vaccine. Under the Act, a claimant who does not prove actual causation must show that "the first symptom or manifestation of the onset or of the significant aggravation" of encephalopathy occurred within three days of a DPT vaccination in order to make out a prima facie right to compensation. 300aa- 11(c)(1)(C)(i); 42 U. S. C. 300aa-14(a) (1988 ed., Supp. V).

The Special Master found that claimant had suffered clonic seizures on the evening after her vaccination and again the following morning, App. to Pet. for Cert. 24a, 27a, and accepted those seizures as symptoms of encephalopathy. He also found, however, that by the time claimant received the vaccination she was "clearly microcephalic" (meaning that she had a head size more than two standard deviations below the mean for a girl her age) and that her microcephaly was a symptom or evidence of encephalopathy that existed before the vaccination. Id., at 32a-33a. Accordingly, the Master concluded that the first symptom or manifestation of the onset of claimant's encephalopathy had occurred before the vaccination and the ensuing 3-day period provided for in the table. Id., at 34a.

271

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007