Second Compensation Denial


Godfrey v. HHS, (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. October 27, 2015) (Corcoran, SM)

Remand decision after appeals court agreed that the special master should consider the Federal Circuit’s intervening decision in Koehn v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 773 F.3d 1239 (Fed. Cir. 2014) – and, in particular, whether its discussion of a similar causation theory warranted a different outcome than the original decision denying compensation.

On remand, the newly assigned special master deferred to the former Chief Special Master’s findings of fact, in the exercise of his discretion.  The special master noted that Koehn and the instant case both involved the HPV vaccine and autoinflammatory diseases, but the similarities ended there.  The number of vaccines received, the timing and nature of onset, and, most importantly, differences in the disease susceptibility and presentation sufficiently distinguished the instant case from Koehn, thus a different result was not warranted (than the original denial). Furthermore, in this case, the causation theory was more thoroughly rebutted.  There was evidence of an alternate trigger aside from the vaccine, and epidemiologic evidence that JAS is not associated with Gardasil.  Further, it was not shown that Gardasil can trigger JAS.  The Court also noted additional reasons to reach the same conclusion as the prior special master – no treater had attributed causation to Gardasil, Petitioner had a genetic predisposition and a family history of autoimmunity, and no evidence was adduced that showed the theory offered was “working” in petitioner.

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