Shalala v. Whitecotton, 514 U.S. 268, 9 (1995)

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O'Connor, J., concurring

itself before vaccination. It does not relieve a claimant of the clear statutory requirements for making out a prima facie case.


The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is accordingly reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Justice O'Connor, with whom Justice Breyer joins, concurring.

Margaret Whitecotton was born in 1975 with a condition known as microcephaly, defined commonly (but not universally) as a head size smaller than two standard deviations below the norm. At the age of four months, she received a diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccination. Prior to receiving her vaccine, Margaret had never had a seizure. The day after receiving her vaccine, she suffered a series of seizures that required three days of hospitalization. Over the next five years, Margaret had intermittent seizures. She now has cerebral palsy and hip and joint problems and cannot communicate verbally. In 1990, Margaret's parents applied for compensation for her injuries under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The Special Master denied compensation, and the Court of Federal Claims agreed. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, 17 F. 3d 374 (1994), finding that the Whitecottons had made out a prima facie case for compensation.

Although I join the Court's opinion rejecting the Court of Appeals' reading of the pertinent statutory provision, I write separately to make two points. First, I wish to indicate an additional factor supporting my conclusion that the Court of Appeals' reading of 42 U. S. C. 300aa-11(c)(1)(C)(i) is inconsistent with congressional intent. Second, I wish to underscore the limited nature of the question the Court decides.

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