KELLEY v. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Kelley was the first vaccine case to award a petitioner compensation for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (“CIDP”).  In Kelley, the petitioner, a healthy 14 year-old high school student, suffered a neurological injury following a tetanus toxoid (“TT”) vaccination that was first diagnosed as Guillain Barre Syndrome (“GBS”), also called acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (“AIDP”), and then later categorized as CIDP. 

At hearing Attorney Chin-Caplan presented evidence that GBS (AIDP) and CIDP were disorders on opposite ends of the spectrum.  The Chief Special Master denied entitlement on the grounds that “[since] there [was] insufficient evidence to support a finding that the tetanus vaccine can cause CIDP, it follows that the tetanus vaccine could not have caused [the petitioner’s] CIDP in this case.” 

On a Motion for Review, the Claims Court reversed and found that the Special Master did not apply the correct standard of proof for vaccine injury claims by requiring “conclusive medical literature” to support a causal relationship between the TT vaccine and the development of CIDP.  The court further recognized that the vaccine program does not require, as the Special Master did, that the petitioner precisely “categorize their injury.”  Instead, the court stated, petitioners are “merely required to show that the vaccine in question caused them injury regardless of the ultimate diagnosis.  Thus, whether the petitioner “suffers from GBS or CIDP is immaterial” if he proves causation by preponderant evidence.”  After finding that the special master had not applied the proper legal standard to his analysis of the evidence, the Court reviewed the underlying record, reversed the denial of entitlement, and remanded for an assessment of damages. 

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