On February 22, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. The 6-2 decision upheld blanket immunity for vaccine manufacturers from tort action based on design defects. The immunity encompasses tort actions filed in both state and federal courts which may arise from the side effects of vaccines under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. In ruling, the Court upheld an earlier decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which also held [PDF] that immunity should be upheld for vaccine manufacturers in relation to both avoidable and unavoidable side effects. The Court's decision has been a point of contention in the debate regarding possible connections between certain vaccines and childhood autism.
Learn more about the laws governing vaccines and immunity from the JURIST news archive.