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Tort Law and Mass Immunization Programs. Lessons From the Polio and Flu Episodes (1977)

Tort Law and Mass Immunization Programs. Lessons From the Polio and Flu Episodes (1977)

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California Law Review, Inc.
Tort Law and Mass Immunization Programs: Lessons from the Polio and Flu EpisodesAuthor(s): Marc A. Franklin and Joseph E. Mais, Jr.Source:
California Law Review,
Vol. 65, No. 4 (Jul., 1977), pp. 754-775Published by: California Law Review, Inc.Stable URL:
Accessed: 26/07/2009 04:39
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=clr.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
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California
Law
Review
VOL. 65JULY 1977No.4
Tort
Law
and
Mass
Immunization
Programs:
Lessons
from
the
Polio
and
Flu
Episodes
MarcA.FranklintJosephE.Mais,Jr.tt
Vaccinemanufacturersndtheir insurerswereuneasyaboutpartici-patingin theswinefluimmunizationrogramduetocases thathadexpandedtraditionalort doctrineoimposeliabilityonpoliovaccinemanufacturers.This Articlediscusses thetensionsbetweentortlawandpublichealthpolicy,notingthecourts'apparenteagernesstocompensateplaintiffsnjuredbytheirparticipationn mass immuni-zationprograms.Sincethatparticipationconfersabenefitonthepublicthroughcontributingo thepreventionofcommunicabledis-eases,theauthorsconcludethata non-tortsystemofcompensatingvictimsofmassimmunizationrogramshouldbe considered.
ThisArticleconsidershetensionsbetweenthe traditionsof tortlawandthegoalsofmassimmunizationrograms.TheArticlefirst
focusesonReyesv.WyethLaboratories,'inwhichavaccineproducer
washeldliableforinjuriesufferedbyapoliovictim whoseillnesswasallegedlycausedbythevaccine itself.Thusfar,the courtshave com-pensatedvictimsofpolioimmunizationprogramsbystretchingradi-tionaltortdoctrinesoimposeiabilityon manufacturers.Asaresult,pharmaceuticalmanufacturersndtheirinsurersassertedreluctanceoparticipaten theproposedswinefluimmunizationprogram.Afterdiscussingthegovernmentalesponsetothisreluctance,the Articleconcludeshatthepublicinterestnencouragingitizens toparticipate
tA.B.1953,CornellUniversity;L.L.B.1956,CornellUniversity;FrederickI.RichmanProfessorofLaw,StanfordUniversity.ttA.B.1975,UniversityofIllinois;third-yearstudent,StanfordUniversitySchoolof Law.1. 498 F.2d1264(5th Cir.),cert.denied,419U.S.1096(1974).
754
 
1977]MASSIMMUNIZATIONPROGRAMS755
inmass immunizationprogramsustifiesa non-tortcompensation ys-temfor thoseinjuredbythe vaccine oritsadministration.Thismightbeaccomplishedbyaprogramthatbuildsuponsomeof the basicelementsofthenational wine luimmunizationrogram.1
THE POLIOVACCINEEXPERIENCE:THEReyesDECISIONThemajorreason for the manufacturers'andinsurers'concernaboutsupplyingflu vaccine wasReyesv.WyethLaboratories,2decidedin1974.3Theplaintiffs'4infant childcontractedpolioin1970,two
2. Id.3. SeeCurran,PublicWarnings ofthe RiskinOral PolioVaccine,65AM.J.
OF PUB.HEALTH 01(1975).
Although Reyeswas the mostwidelycriticized ofthepoliovaccinecases,thecourtshave decidedvirtually everypoliovaccinecase for theplaintiffonone oranothertheory.Somecourts haveimposedliabilityusingwarrantylaw.Grinnellv. CharlesPfizer &Co.,274Cal.App.2d424,79Cal.Rptr.369(lstDist.1969)(manufacturerheldliableforbreachof anexpresswarrantythat"Therearenoknowncontraindicationsto oralpoliovirusvaccines,"whenlive virusinSabin vaccineproducedthedisease);Gottsdankerv.CutterLaboratories,182 Cal.App.2d602,6 Cal.Rptr.320(1stDist.1960)(manufacturerheldliableforbreach of animpliedwarrantyofmerchantabilitywhenlivevirus inSalk vaccineproducedthedisease,despiteajuryfindingthatthemanufacturerhad followedgovernmentinstructions and wasnotnegligentinthemanu-factureof thevaccine).Onecourtimposedliabilityonanegligence theory.Griffinv.UnitedStates,351 F.Supp.10(E.D.Pa.1972),353F.Supp.324(E.D.Pa.1973),aff'dinpart,rev'dinpartandremanded,500F.2d1059(3dCir.1974)(UnitedStatesgovernmentheldliable fornegligently releasinga batchof live-virusvaccineafter testresults showed that thebatch did notmeetthesafetystandardsimposedbyadministra-tiveregulation).Others haveimposedliabilityfor thefailuretogiveanadequatewarn-ing.Davis v.WyethLaboratories,Inc.,399 F.2d121(9thCir.1968) (liabilityimposeduponmanufacturerunder Montana law for failure towarnultimateuserofdangersinherentinlive-virusvaccine eventhoughsuch awarningwasgivento the medicalsocietythatpurchasedthevaccine);Stahlheberv.AmericanCyanamidCo.,451S.W.2d48(Mo.1970) (liabilityimposed uponmanufacturerforlackofadequatewarningofdangersinherentin live virusvaccine);Cunninghamv.Charles Pfizer&Co.,532P.2d1377(Okla.1974)(verdictagainstmanufacturerorfailure towarnofdangersinherentin livevirus vaccine reversedand remanded to determine whethera reasonablepersoninplaintiff's positionwould have refused thevaccineif anadequatewarningoftherisks hadbeengiven);Givensv.Lederle,No. 73-59-CIVTK(S.D.Fla.1975),appealdocketed Dec.22,1975(thejuryfoundthat theplaintiffcontractedpoliobyhandlingherinfant'sdiapersafterthechild had beengivenlive-virusvaccineandimposedliabil-ityuponthemanufacturer forfailingtowarnthe child'sphysicianof the risk ofcon-tractingpoliofromcontactwith therecipientofthevaccine),citedinComment,MassImmunizationCases:DrugManufacturers'LiabilityforFailuretoWarn,29VAND.L.REV.235,249-50(1976)[hereinaftercitedas MassImmunizationCases].Mostof thesecaseswerebrought byplaintiffswho contractedpolioshortlyafterreceivingthe vaccinein a mass immunizationprogram,andthisArticlewillprimarilyaddress theproblemsassociatedwith mass immunization.Seealsoid.4.EpifanioReyes,the fatherofthe infantpoliovictim,suedindividuallyandas nextfriend ofhisdaughter,AnitaReyes.It wasMrs.ReyeswhotookAnitato

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