In 1986, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was signed into law. NVICP protects vaccine manufacturers by placing a tax on vaccine users that then moves into a general fund for payouts regarding injury from vaccinations. If those who petitioned to be heard in this specific court did not like the judgment or payout they received, they could then sue the vaccine manufacturer in civil court. In 2011, this right to sue in civil court was taken away with the supreme court ruling Bruesewitz v. Wyeth.
Representative Jeremy Munson (R- Lake Crystal) said during the conference that “if everyone believes that vaccines are safe, that they cause no injury, that they can’t cause injury, then there should be no problem with this” making it clear that they “are not passing law here” but rather a “resolution asking Congress to act.” “I want this conversation to happen at the federal level,” he concludes.
Randy Knutson, partner, and attorney at Knutson + Casey and personal injury attorney and 2011 Minnesota Attorney of the Year spoke at the conference, saying that he had anywhere from 35 to 50 people at a time that seek his services, many of which are adults that suffer from paralysis due to vaccinations. He explains that “75 cents of every vaccine goes into a fund where there are billions of dollars to pay [these] folks injured by vaccines” and says that more often than not “we end up resolving the cases and they pay and they agree that my clients were hurt by the vaccination.”
One reporter abruptly interrupted Senator Jim Abeler (R- Anoka) towards the beginning of the press conference, asking “Do you think that gun manufacturer should be protected from liability? Because they currently are.” Sen. Abler responded by saying that is a topic of conversation for another time.
While gun manufacturers are rightly not held liable for crimes committed with their products, they are liable for “damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible” just like other manufacturers who create consumer products, as stated in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005.
Much of the conversation during the question and answer portion of the press conference swirled around being pro or anti-vaccine. Kristin Sullivan of the Minnesota Vaccine Freedom Coalition ended the conference by saying that this “is not [about] whether or not you should vaccinate, it’s really about putting liability back onto Pharma.”
Watch the whole press conference here.
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Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.