(This was originally posted on http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/2010/08/30/mmr-and-autism-cedillo-appeal-refused/ on 30 August, 2010.)
In my earlier posting about the Omnibus Autism Proceedings, I mentioned that the family of Michelle Cedillo was appealing the verdict that the MMR vaccine did not cause her autism, and that I would write about it when the Federal Court of Appeals rendered its verdict. On Friday, the Court returned its verdict. Unsurprisingly, it upheld the verdicts of Special Master George Hastings and of the Federal Circuit Court. The judges used much the same reasoning, and the same reasons as to why they refused the Hazelhurst appeal, in the Cedillo ruling.
Some quotes from the ruling:
“Petitioners assert that the Special Master used an incorrect legal standard to determine causation, in particular they assert that the Special Master erred in using the Daubert standard to judge the reliability of the expert testimony. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 593-94 (1993).
We see no legal error in the standards applied by the Special Master either in judging causation or in utilizing Daubert. The Special Master applied the correct Althen standards for causation.
In light of our decision sustaining the Special Master’s conclusion as to the unreliability of the Unigenetics testing, we also sustain the Special Master’s finding that petitioners have failed to establish that vaccine-strain measles virus was present in Michelle Cedillo’s body. Thus, petitioners’ theory based on the assumed presence of measles virus in Michelle Cedillo’s body necessarily fails. As the Special Master found, petitioners established no other credible theory of causation. Under these circumstances, we need not address other alternative grounds for the Special Master’s decision.
Petitioners also contend that the Special Master erred in disounting the opinions of Michelle’s treating physicians, several of whom associated her illness with her MMR vaccine. Petitioners argue that under our decision in Capizzano v. Sec’y of Health & Human Affairs, the opinions of treating physicians should be given significant probative weight. See 440 F.3d 1317, 1326 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (observing that “medical records and medical opinion testimony are favored in vaccine cases, as treating physicians are likely to be in the best position to determine whether a logical sequence of cause and effect shows that the vaccination was the reason for the injury”) (quotation omitted). The treating physicians did not testify.
Finally, Petitioners accuse the Special Master of abdicating his duty to be fair and impartial. We see no basis for questioning the fairness or the impartiality of the Special Master. In conclusion, we have carefully reviewed the decision of the Special Master and we find that it is rationally supported by the evidence, well-articulated, and reasonable. We therefore affirm the denial of the Cedillos’ petition for compensation.”
Three things need to be said.
Firstly, the verdict is “Dog bites Man” news. In the OAP, the Special Masters ruled against the plaintiffs in all six test cases. They did so because the science behind the MMR-causes-autism hypothesis was exposed as garbage. When the first three families (Cedillo, Hazelhurst and Snyder) appealed the verdicts they all lost. Then, when the Hazelhursts appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals they lost. In its ruling on Cedillo, the Appeals Court referred back to its ruling on Hazelhurst several times. It would have been not merely surprising, but astonishing, had the Court ruled in favour of the Cedillos.
Secondly, the Cedillos were either very badly advised by their lawyers, or they stubbornly didn’t listen. In the original case before the Vaccine Court, the Cedillos aimed to show that Michelle was developing normally before she received the MMR jab. To this end, they introduced video footage of Michelle before the jab. This turned out to be fatal to their case as an expert on autism was able to show that Michelle was already showing signs of autism in the videotape shown to the court. Add to that the fact that the MMR-Autism hypothesis was discredited and it should have been obvious that the odds of the original verdict being overturned were close to nonexistent. Yet the Cedillos mounted two unsuccessful appeals.
Thirdly, and finally, where to from here for the OAP? Several things could happen. The Cedillos and the Hazelhursts could petition the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court doesn’t hear all cases submitted to it and probably wouldn’t consider such a petition. The family of Colten Snyder could appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals but given the Court ruled against both the Hazelhursts and the Cedillos the Snyders would also be almost certain to lose. The parents of Colin Dwyer, Jordan King and William Mead (the children in the other three Test Cases) could take the same route as the first three and appeal to the Fedral Circuit Court and then the Federal Court of Appeals but I have heard nothing about them choosing to do this.
Personally, I am hoping that this is the end for the OAP. Enough time and money has been wasted chasing a fraudulent hypothesis. It is time for sanity to prevail and for people to stop blaming vaccinations as a cause of autism.