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Settlement reached in federal lawsuit over illness following seasonal flu vaccine

October 2, 2012

Laura LaRue, through her attorney, Professor Edward Kraus of the IIT Chicago-Kent Law Offices, has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding her petition for compensation for the life-threatening neurological illness she experienced after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine in October 2010. LaRue received a lump-sum payment in exchange for her agreement to dismiss the case, which was filed in the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Edward Kraus represented Laura LaRue in her petition for compensation for a life-threatening neurological illness she experienced after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine.Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintain that the seasonal flu vaccine poses no elevated risk of neurological illness or other severe side effects, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System ("VAERS"), a national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, receives reports of thousands of adverse flu shot events each year. LaRue's case is one of dozens of cases filed each year for compensation due to adverse reactions to the flu vaccine ranging from temporary illness, to permanent neurological damage, to death.

Prior to receiving the vaccine at the direction of her employer, LaRue had been healthy and physically fit with no specific risk factors suggesting the need for heightened protection against the seasonal flu. In pursuing her lawsuit, LaRue hoped to shed light on the potential for adverse reactions.

According to Professor Kraus, a clinical professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, the flu vaccine, while a positive preventive measure for many people, ought to be viewed as an actual medical intervention. Professor Kraus added, "Individuals should be fully informed about the rare, but very real potential risks involved with any vaccine so they can make an informed decision about what makes sense for them or their child, taking into account their own unique genetic makeup and overall health picture."

LaRue's husband, Bob, agreed, adding, "There's no question that vaccines play a critical role in our public health program." Mr. LaRue cautioned however, that with optional vaccines such as the flu vaccine, "it is vital to speak with an informed healthcare provider and to understand the potential side effects, to determine whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its potential risks to a particular individual."

For more information on adverse reactions to the flu vaccine and other vaccine related litigation, contact Professor Edward Kraus at ekraus@kentlaw.iit.edu.

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. The IIT Chicago-Kent Law Offices is a teaching law firm whose dual mission is to provide high-quality clinical education to the more than 150 student interns and externs who enroll each semester and to deliver outstanding legal services to its clients. 

For More Information:

Susan O'Brien
Assistant Dean for Public Affairs
(312) 906-5250