Case Model: English

English v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
Office of Special Masters, No. 01-61V
Filed: September 28, 2005

  • DT, Hib and hepatitis B vaccines
  • Seizure disorder, sepsis, death
  • Not entitled to compensation

Petitioners James and Sharon English alleged that the DT, Hib and hepatitis B vaccinations received by their son James Jones English (“Jake”) on September 12, 1998, caused his seizure disorder, and eventually sepsis and death.

Chief Special Master Golkiewicz found that petitioners failed to demonstrate that Jake’s seizure disorder and subsequent death were caused-in-fact by those vaccinations, and thus were not entitled to compensation.

The petitioners failed to establish Prong 2 of the Althen test for causation in fact in “off-Table” cases.

The reasoning of the Chief Special Master exhibits the following features:

    • It assesses the credibility of two competing expert witnesses;
    • It addresses the task of determining whether two similar events are part of the same disorder (pre-vaccination seizures in August vs. post-vaccination seizures in September);
    • It employs Modus Tollens reasoning in defeating the petitioner’s allegations on Prong 2; and
    • It relies upon the petitioner’s burden of production to limit the list of possible differences between the two events.

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