On February 22, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Inc. The question presented in this case was “whether a preemption provision enacted in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (NCVIA) bars state-law design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers.”
By a margin of 6 to 2, the Court unbelievably answered that question in the affirmative thereby barring claims against vaccine manufacturers in State and Federal Court for design defects. Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, and Alito, held that “the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act preempts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufactures brought by plaintiffs who seek compensation for injury or death caused by vaccine side effects.”
Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg, dissented. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
The ruling is a complete victory for the four companies that currently supply vaccines for the U.S. market: Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline, PLC, Merck & Company, and Sanofi-Aventis, SA.