CBS News Investigates
September 9, 2010 2:14 PM

Family to Receive $1.5M+ in First-Ever Vaccine-Autism Court Award

Nine-year-old Hannah Poling is shown. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Spink)

The first court award in a vaccine-autism claim is a big one. CBS News has learned the family of Hannah Poling will receive more than $1.5 million dollars for her life care; lost earnings; and pain and suffering for the first year alone.

In addition to the first year, the family will receive more than $500,000 per year to pay for Hannah's care. Those familiar with the case believe the compensation could easily amount to $20 million over the child's lifetime.

Hannah was described as normal, happy and precocious in her first 18 months.

Then, in July 2000, she was vaccinated against nine diseases in one doctor's visit: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae.

Afterward, her health declined rapidly. She developed high fevers, stopped eating, didn't respond when spoken to, began showing signs of autism, and began having screaming fits. In 2002, Hannah's parents filed an autism claim in federal vaccine court. Five years later, the government settled the case before trial and had it sealed. It's taken more than two years for both sides to agree on how much Hannah will be compensated for her injuries.

Read Sharyl Attkisson's 2008 report on Hannah Poling

In acknowledging Hannah's injuries, the government said vaccines aggravated an unknown mitochondrial disorder Hannah had which didn't "cause" her autism, but "resulted" in it. It's unknown how many other children have similar undiagnosed mitochondrial disorder. All other autism "test cases" have been defeated at trial. Approximately 4,800 are awaiting disposition in federal vaccine court.

Time Magazine summed up the relevance of the Poling case in 2008: ...(T)here's no denying that the court's decision to award damages to the Poling family puts a chink -- a question mark -- in what had been an unqualified defense of vaccine safety with regard to autism. If Hannah Poling had an underlying condition that made her vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, it stands to reason that other children might also have such vulnerabilities."

Then-director of the Centers for Disease Control Julie Gerberding (who is now President of Merck Vaccines) stated: "The government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism. This does not represent anything other than a very specific situation and a very sad situation as far as the family of the affected child."

Read the newly-released decision on Hannah Poling's compensation.

julie gerberding ,
sharyl attkisson ,
safety ,
award ,
vaccine ,
autism ,
cbs news ,
condition ,
court ,
hannah poling

Add a Comment See all 75 Comments
by J_Bishop September 10, 2010 11:15 PM EDT
Thank you also to the Poling family for going public with the concession, despite efforts to seal the case, which also just happened to be one of the original three vaccine-autism test cases.
Reply to this comment
by cimna September 10, 2010 10:24 PM EDT
You know a lot who aren't in pain and aren't suffering? Well, you should meet mine. He is physically suffering from a damaged gut. You might also refer to Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his work for more information.

Here is another board where you may find many desperate parents of suffering sick children:

Believe me - there is a lot of suffering. Lots.
Reply to this comment
by whiteandnerdy9397 September 10, 2010 9:35 PM EDT
Hi Ms Attkisson,

No big surprise, but journalism school didn't adequately prepare you to analyze medical or legal documents.

Please review the Poling case with some qualified advisors/consultants/sources and correct your story.

I make this request since:
(1) you have totally misrepresented the facts of the story,
(2) as the comments section here demonstrates parents are being mislead by your story and coming to absurd conclusions that impact the health of their children.

I am sure we can count on you to act responsibly here.

Reply to this comment
by smartymom September 10, 2010 8:30 PM EDT
You know what people ... why don't you get off your high-horses and start helping the docs who are helping these kids recover. Yep, they're recovering some of our kids ... not retarded but injured (some worse than others as in this case). Most docs who support vaccination are following what they learned in med school (largely taught by pharmaceutical trained individuals). They are too busy in their practices to spend a few more wakeless nights to investigate on their own ... or they are afraid to have the same fate befall them like Dr. Andrew Wakefield who discovered a connection between gastro injury (one of many disturbances found in autism) and vaccines.
How dare this Government of ours deceive us this long with a plethora of data showing that vaccines are causing untold damage, install a vaccine court that still, even after this monumental case, claims autism is not "caused" by vaccines but "results" from vaccines. Huh??
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by pjc7960 September 10, 2010 9:11 PM EDT
I too, applaud the brave doctors who are working their butts off to reverse the vaccine damage done to our kids. Their number is growing every day, but sadly, a main reason for the growing number is that many of these doctors had to see it happen to their OWN children first - before they fully realized the potentially devastating effects of vaccines.
by autism360 September 10, 2010 6:19 PM EDT
I am amazed at how the vaccine court has treated the autism issue given that this case had already been conceded and had fully substantiated the vaccine autism link prior to their goofy decision. I hope that that the 5000 autism families currently in litigation have their day in civil court and win trillions from Pharma.
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by GabrielBB September 10, 2010 6:15 PM EDT
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Unfortunately, all these people who actually think vaccines case Autism are putting everyone else at risk. It constantly amazes me how much time and faith people will put into junk science and how much credibility they will give to joke bloggers like Sharyl Attkisson, but refuse to listen to the OVERWHELMING and ever growing body of millions of dollars of research proving without a doubt that vaccinations do not cause Autism.

This settlement (if you bothered to read it) and this article do nothing to change that.

Listen, I am a parent as well and I know it's a scary place out there. But this is an area where you do not have to be afraid. There is no conspiracy theory. I know it's not as exciting to think that, but it's the (proven) truth.

Take a deep breath, go hug your kid/s and be glad they don't have to worry about Polio, whooping cough etc any more. That is unless people stop getting their shots.
Reply to this comment
by msdtr September 10, 2010 7:32 PM EDT
Dedicated to my son Jeffery Devin.

My son who is 24 years old now has been a juvenile diabetic since the age of 8. I did not have any family history of diabetes until my sons diagnoses.

At my sons school physical, the government decided all children should receive booster injections of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine. This vaccine to this day is made from weakened but live virus. I will always remember and feel the guilt as myself and two nurses held my son down as he was fighting the immunization forced upon him. Shortly after the vaccination, (within 2 week period of time) My eight year old son lost 20 lbs, became fatigued, lethargic, started to wet his bed,(Something he never did before) drank huge amounts of liquids and complained of a severe headache and thirst. He was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes. (I am aware researchers are denying the connection) Obviously, we are not talking about their loved ones. Type 1 requires many injections to this day due to the fact that he is a brittle diabetic. (difficult to regulate his blood sugars) He has suffered from hypoglycemic seizures and other side effects. Today he is 24 years old. His diagnosis of diabetes has effected every aspect of his life. I blame his diagnosis for a host of issues both physically and mentally he suffers with every day. (I will not go into all details.) The bottom line for me is this..... I will always believe that injecting our young children immune systems can in no way be healthy for them. I understand that the more immunized, the less children will pick up what was considered "Normal child hood exposures." I would like to compare the numbers. How many children on average each year (prior to the vaccine campaign) suffered life long illness to the numbers of children suffering life long illness from the effects of vaccines that were meant to help them? Injecting young systems with live virus vaccine can not be matter what anyone says. I wish I could do it over again. I would ask for a blood titer level. This would check immune status prior to injecting more live virus into what was a perfectly healthy child.I wish someone with clout would investigate the increase numbers of not only Autism, but diabetes, ADHD and many others on the rise. Judge me and my opinion if you would like. But just remember...... many times the effects do not show for years. (Type 1/Juvenile diabetes can take up to age 30 to show up.) Be thankful that your child is one of the lucky ones......

I will leave you with this thought.... There is currently a commercial played frequently, stating that the worst place to be is in the arms of a parent who has not received the adult booster injection of Pertussis aka Whooping Cough. If the vaccine for Pertussis were so protective/effective, why would the child (after receiving Pertussis vaccine) have to worry about their parents immune status? Can we say Greedy pharma???
by GabrielBB September 10, 2010 8:52 PM EDT
@ msdtr

You can't seriously be suggesting that of the thousands of scientists, non of them have kids or kids with Autism?

While I feel for your situation (there is no way of saying that without sounding condescending) you can rest assured that you did nothing wrong as one has nothing to do with the other. Im sure that offers little comfort, but one day you will finally read enough studies and these quacks who feed off of making parents think they did the wrong thing will be discredited to the point of obsolescence. Then maybe you can put any remaining guilt you may have to rest. That being said, I don't agree with mandatory shots so you really had no choice.

These people who feed and profit off of scaring people away from life saving vaccines are the real monsters. I hope one day they will be held criminally liable for the children their reckless words have killed.
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by September 10, 2010 5:39 PM EDT
The government gave away the game when they insisted that the case record be sealed. They know perfectly well what the light of day would reveal. Write your Congressman and insist that this record be opened!
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by wwmmd September 10, 2010 5:25 PM EDT
Where's the public notice? 1 in a 100 children may be dealing with a very specific situation.
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by homeofficemommy September 10, 2010 5:15 PM EDT
Thanks Sharyl, for making us aware of this. I'm mad enough at the threats of the AMA against us as parents that I linked your story to my magazine

How fitting that they start paying up now that we are in a recession!

Believe well!

Adelaide "Home Office Mommy" Zindler
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by mlopez1966 September 10, 2010 2:51 PM EDT
This is the start of many more lawsuits!

With an occurrence rate of 150 children to 1 can you imagine what is going to happen in the upcoming years?
Reply to this comment
by hubsmom September 10, 2010 8:22 PM EDT
For many families it's too late. You have 3 years to file a claim in vaccine court. So if it's 3 years past the first document sign or concern for your child's vaccine damage, it's too late to file. Most people don't know this. We didn't and by the time we finally decided to file, we had 2 months to get our case in!
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