Vaccines – Litigation: The Hannah Poling Case: Significance For Families Affected By Autism?


By Becky Estepp – TACA Mom

March 6, 2008 was a very historic day for families dealing with autism, especially for those who believe in vaccine-induced autism.  This was the day that the Poling Family from Georgia spoke out for the first time about their daughter’s vaccine case.  Hannah Poling’s case was conceded by the government in November 2007 but the public did not find out about the concession until David Kirby wrote about the concession in the Huffington Post on February 25.

Since that day, TACA has received hundreds of questions revolving around Hannah’s case. Our hopes are to address some these questions here.  It is important to note this is not written by an attorney and this is not legal advice – this is general information for parents to review and consider.  It is also important to note, I am a TACA mom with a child who has a claim in the vaccine court. I attended one week of vaccine court in June of 2007.

First, read more about the Poling case:

Of the hundreds of emails we receive on this topic, we have created a “frequently asked questions” regarding the Poling case and hope it is helpful to the families looking for answers and additional information.

“I have been told vaccines had nothing to do with my child’s condition, but I always suspected they did. What do I do if I think my child had a vaccine reaction?”

For years and even still today, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers of Disease Control, and the Federal Drug Administration have denied a link between autism and vaccines.  Parents have been told and are still being told that vaccines did not harm their children.  But what are we to make with a concession from the government that links Hannah’s “autistic like symptoms” with her vaccines?  It seems like there is conflicting information coming out from the government.  If you feel that your child did have a vaccine reaction, you may want to file a claim in vaccine court. Read more information on filing claim.

“How do I a file claim in vaccine court?”

There are two different ways to file a claim in vaccine court.  You can file on your own or get an attorney to take your case.  As of right now, I do not know of any attorneys that are taking cases.  However, the U.S. Federal Court of Claims can provide you with names of attorneys that are accepting cases. Please call 202-357-6400 to inquire about these attorneys.

Read about how to file a case on your own.

“I have heard that there is a three-year statute of limitations, is that true?  And if I am outside of the statute of limitations, should I still file?”

Unfortunately, yes, the statute of limitations is three years.  The statute is not completely clear on when the clock begins.  It could be different with each child.  As it stands right now, the three year time period begins at the on set of symptoms. This means the clock may have or most likely started before your child was diagnosed with autism.  If you are within the three year statute of limitations and you feel that your child had a vaccine reaction, it is imperative that you find an attorney or file your case right away.

If you are outside that statute of limitations, you may still want to consider filing a case.  The rationale behind this thinking is based on a hypothetical situation.  Let’s say the vaccine court cases start winning or are being conceded for the families. There may be a point where the vaccine court will have to issue “a look back” period.  This would be a set length of time that all families can file a case, no matter what the statute of limitations is.  If this hypothetical situation plays out, your child’s case would be in “the front of the line” so to speak if you file now.  The fee to file a case is $250.  You may want to consider this option. I have been told by several parents that they are deciding to get in the system regardless of the statute of limitations, to set their place in line.

More information on filing a case in vaccine court: US Federal Court of Claims.

“Is Hannah Poling the first case where vaccines caused a childs’ autism?”

Hannah Poling was not the first vaccine case.  There have been three cases tried since June 2007.

To learn more about these cases, the Age of Autism’s Kent Heckenlively has done a wonderful job summarizing each day in court.

For more information:

The main source of information regarding this vaccine court, its proceedings, and latest updates – please go to US Federal Court of Claims.

In June 2007. I did daily radio reports for Autism One on what transpired in court on those days.  Listen to those reports.

I hope this gives everyone more information on vaccine court. If there are any other questions, feel free to contact me.