Disability Scoop: High Court Rejects Autism-Vaccine Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by a woman who says her son’s autism was caused by vaccines he received.

Chandra D. Price sought compensation in 2008 from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, later claiming that her son Christopher T. Wynn’s autism was caused by vaccines “being given in back-to-back increments, and by mercury toxicity.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services moved to dismiss the claim arguing that Price had waited too long after her son was diagnosed in 1994 to seek compensation. Under the Vaccine Act, injury claims must be brought within 36 months of the onset of symptoms.

After years of back and forth, an attorney for Price filed a motion to dismiss her petition in 2012. Nonetheless, Price pressed forward independently and sought to reopen the case explaining that her attorney “misunderstood when Christopher’s last vaccine had been administered, which caused him to erroneously conclude that the claim had been filed outside of the Vaccine Act’s statute of limitations.”

However, a special master determined that Price did not provide sufficient reason for the case to be reopened and her request for a subsequent review of the matter was deemed to have been filed too late.

Ultimately, Price brought her case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last year that Price did not have grounds to proceed.

“Under the Vaccine Act’s limitations period, Ms. Price was required to file her claim within thirty-six months, or by June 29, 1997,” the ruling stated. “Though… the thirty-six month limitation period is subject to equitable tolling, there is no indication that equitable tolling would apply to Ms. Price’s delay of over ten years in filing her Vaccine Act Petition.”

Price then asked the Supreme Court to consider the matter, but in an order this week, the high court declined without any comment.

The court’s action comes amid renewed attention to vaccines with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting more than 150 cases of measles across the country so far this year. Most of those who have contracted the illness were not immunized.

Medical experts have widely discredited any link between vaccines and autism. A 1998 study largely responsible for sparking fears about an association between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was retracted in 2010.