Case Model: Butcher

Butcher v. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services,
Office of Special Masters, No. 99-409V
Filed: March 22, 2007

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Cardiac arrest and death
  • Not entitled to compensation

Petitioners Rick and Cheryl Butcher, as representatives of the Estate of their son Taylor Butcher, alleged that the hepatitis B vaccination that Taylor received on or about June 20, 1997 caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest and death.

Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith found that the petitioners failed to demonstrate that Taylor’s cardiac arrest and death were caused in fact by his hepatitis B vaccination, and thus the petitioners were not entitled to compensation.

The petitioners offered no medical opinion causally connecting Taylor’s vaccination and his injury.

The reasoning of the Special Master exhibits the following feature:

    • The use of a legal rule to ground a disjunctive form of modus tollens (“the Special Master can find for the petitioner only if the petitioner’s claim is substantiated by medical records or by a medical opinion”; “the petitioner’s claim is not substantiated by the medical records”; “the petitioner’s claim is not substantiated by a medical opinion”; therefore, “the Special Master cannot find for the petitioner”).

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