A high court panel decision remanded a product liability case, ordering a Philadelphia trial court to reach conclusive findings with regard to a vaccine design defect claim. (link)
The claim moves forward only upon a finding that the side effects experienced by the plaintiff were avoidable. This particular case involves an 11-yr-old autistic boy.
Legal questions and dissenting court opinions continue with regard to how much protection or no fault status the Vaccine Act provides for vaccine producers. Recently, cases have arisen that point to the need for continued accountability expectations for those who manufacture vaccinations. However, those who manufacture vaccinations point out that if they are held accountable for injury that results from the vaccination process - the resulting law suits for injury from vaccination would put them out of the vaccination business.
Federal data shows that $154 million was paid in fiscal 2010 to 154 claimants involved in vaccine court proceedings. That figure was significantly higher than in preceding years and reflected several unusually high awards, officials involved in the program said. (link)
The current administration favors an interpretation of the Vaccine Act which provides complete no fault status for those who manufacture vaccinations, whereby no design defect claims may be brought against them.
One case (link) where a - then 6-mos-old girl suffered seizures after her third dose of DTP - has brought a lot of attention to the design defect question. Her parents were never against vaccination, but feel that the vaccine manufacturers need to face threat of litigation so that they produce safer vaccinations.
Overall, design defects fall into three categories; design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. From findlaw:
Marketing defects are defects in the manner in which a product is sold. This type of defect can include inadequate warnings and/or instructions. Design defects are in a manner of speaking, intended. This type of defect is inherent in the design of the product. For example, a chair that is designed with only three legs might be considered defectively designed because it tips over too easily. Manufacturing defects on the other hand are defects that were not intended. For example, a chair might be designed to be stable, but if it is manufactured with one of the legs not bolted on correctly, the chair would be said to have a manufacturing defect.
Some vaccination cases have pointed to design defects whereby a manufacturer produced a vaccination that presented higher risk for injury - even as the very same manufacturer had designs available to them that presented less risk for injury. An example of one such case can be found here.