The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Monday that claims filed under the National [Childhood] Vaccine Injury Act (Vaccine Act) can be decided based solely on the written record. Such a procedural ruling allows claims to be judged without conducting evidentiary hearings or gaining either parties’ consent.
The Vaccine Act establishes the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VCIP), which provides compensation to people injured by certain vaccines. Typically, the vaccines are those mandated by public schools and are obtained during childhood. The VCIP is a no-fault alternative process to traditional tort cases as injured parties claim monetary damages from the VCIP’s fund rather than the vaccine manufacturer.
The case originated when Bret and Sandra Kreizenbeck filed a claim for compensation after their son developed an immune system dysfunction, allegedly from vaccinations. To support their claim, the Kreizenbecks appealed and submitted more than 1,500 pages of medical records and three three reports from medical experts. Nevertheless, their claim was denied after a special master determined the record failed to establish the Kreizenbecks right to compensation. In response, the Kreizenbecks appealed to the Federal Circuit, arguing they should have received an evidentiary hearing on the matter.
In the ruling, the Federal Circuit relied on a provision within the Vaccine Act, giving special masters great discretion and outlines their ability to decide cases based solely on the written records. The court further outlined that once a special master determines a record complete, there is no consent needed from either party.