Bruesewitz v. Wyeth

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Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC
Argued October 12, 2010
Decided February 22, 2011
Full case nameRussell Bruesewitz and Robalee Bruesewitz, Parents and Natural Guardians of Hannah Bruesewitz, A Minor Child, And In Their Own Right v. Wyeth LLC F/K/A Wyeth Laboratories, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Wyeth Lederle, Wyeth Lederle Vaccines, and Lederle Laboratories
Docket no.09-152
Citations562 U.S. 223 (more)
131 S. Ct. 1068; 179 L. Ed. 2d 1
ArgumentOral argument
Case history
PriorSummary judgment granted to defendants, E.D. Pa.; affirmed, 561 F.3d 233 (3rd Cir. 2009); cert. granted, 559 U.S. 991 (2010).
The 1986 Vaccine Act preempts all vaccine design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
Clarence Thomas · Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Stephen Breyer · Samuel Alito
Sonia Sotomayor · Elena Kagan
Case opinions
MajorityScalia, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito
DissentSotomayor, joined by Ginsburg
Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, 562 U.S. 223 (2011), is a United States Supreme Court case that decided whether a section of the Vaccine Act of 1986 preempts all vaccine design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers.


Hannah Bruesewitz, the daughter of the main petitioners in the case, received Wyeth's Tri-Immunol DTP vaccine as part of childhood immunizations. The Bruesewitzes claimed that Hannah's seizures and later developmental problems came from the vaccine. They filed suit in the "Vaccine Court", a special court within the United States Court of Federal Claims. Their petition was dismissed for failure to prove a link between the vaccine and Hannah's health problems.

They proceeded to sue in Pennsylvania state court. The case was removed to the local federal court, which held that the claim was preempted by a section of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.[1] A petition for a writ of certiorari was granted on March 8, 2010, bringing the case to the Supreme Court.

In briefings before the Court, both sides argued over the specific language of the statutory provision.


The case was decided on February 22, 2011. The Court, in a 6-2 opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, held that the "plaintiffs design defect claims [were] expressly preempted by the Vaccine Act." Thus, the court affirmed laws that vaccine manufacturers are not liable for vaccine-induced injury or death if they are "accompanied by proper directions and warnings."[2]

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, [1] Archived 2011-02-03 at the Wayback Machine, Third Circuit affirms, (2008).
  2. ^ 42 U.S.C. 300aa-22. Standards of responsibility (PDF), 2010, p. 1161

External links[edit]