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Lawyers Can Seek Fees Even if Vaccine Injury Claims Were Too Late

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Thomson Reuters; May 21, 2013

(Reuters) - Lawyers who file claims on behalf of clients alleging injury from a vaccine may recover their legal fees even if the claim is dismissed as untimely, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The high court found Dr. Melissa Cloer, who says she developed multiple sclerosis from three Hepatitis-B vaccines, can seek attorneys' fees under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, even though she filed her claims too late to recover payment for her alleged injuries.

Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986 in an effort to provide a cost-effective process for resolving vaccine-injury claims outside of tort litigation and to ensure a stable market supply of vaccines. Successful claims are paid out of a federal trust fund that comes from a tax levied on every dose of vaccine.

After receiving three Hepatitis-B vaccinations between 1996 and 1997, Cloer developed a tingling and numbness in one arm. The numbness gradually spread, and she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. The next year, Cloer learned about a link between the vaccine and multiple sclerosis, leading her to file a claim with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 2005.

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