Bruesewitz v. Wyeth

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Bruesewitz v. Wyeth
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 12, 2010
Decided February 22, 2011
Full case name Russell Bruesewitz and Robalee Bruesewitz, Parents and Natural Guardians of Hannah Bruesewitz, A Minor Child, And In Their Own Right v. Wyeth Inc. F/K/A Wyeth Laboratories, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Wyeth Lederle, Wyeth Lederle Vaccines, and Lederle Laboratories
Docket nos. 09-152
Citations 562 U.S. 223 (more)
Argument Oral argument
Prior history Summary 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
Majority Scalia, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito
Concurrence Breyer
Dissent Sotomayor, joined by Ginsburg
Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 562 U.S. 223 (2011), is a United States Supreme Court case that decided whether a section of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury 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], Third Circuit affirms, (2008).
  2. ^ 42 U.S.C. 300aa-22. Standards of responsibility (PDF), 2010, p. 1161 

External links[edit]