Case Model: Keenan

Keenan v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
Office of Special Masters, No. 99-561V
Filed: April 5, 2007

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Respiratory illness, sensitivity to chemicals
  • Entitled to compensation

Petitioner Joyce Keenan alleged that the hepatitis B vaccination that she received on August 30, 1993 caused her to suffer a respiratory illness including bronchospasms and asthma, and an immunological dysfunction involving sensitivity to various chemicals.

Special Master Richard Abell found that the petitioner demonstrated that her injuries were caused in fact by that vaccination, and thus the petitioner was entitled to compensation.

The reasoning of the Special Master exhibits the following features:

    • A separate set of findings about the onset of symptoms and course of events in the case, based upon a separate evidentiary hearing held for the purpose of determining the facts upon which the experts and the Court could rely;
    • Distinguishing explicitly between the initial reaction (a rash accompanied with itching) and subsequent events (development of sensitivities to chemicals), and applying Althen Prongs 1 and 2 explicitly to each set of events;
    • Accepting for purposes of Althen Prong 1 a medical theory of “immune dysregulation through vaccine-induced molecular mimicry”;
    • A recounting of five prior cases in which petitioners had argued the theory of molecular mimicry;
    • Differential diagnosis that failed to find an etiology;
    • Discounting smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as complete explanations for the petitioner’s injuries; and
    • Not being persuaded by the Respondent’s affirmative defense that the injury was due to factors unrelated to the vaccination.

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