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Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement, Part 1

Please note: When this post first went live, Lilly was still alive and doing OK. Lilly ultimately died from her adverse vaccine reaction (and illness and side-effects of treatment) on December 17, 2013. We spent 23 months and nearly $31,000 fighting to save her. We lost. 

Here is part one (of five) posts that tell the story of our quest to get financial help from the company that manufactured the rabies vaccine Lilly received January 23, 2012. Today, we cover the timeline and process from my initial request to the official adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement offer.

It’s my goal in this post, in particular, to be as direct and factual as possible. Trust me; I’ll editorialize in the coming days. Today, I simply want to outline how this scenario played out.

If you are new to our story, it’s important to know that Lilly developed a rare and serious adverse vaccine reaction called meningoencephalomyelitis / meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain and spinal cord) after receiving a rabies vaccine January 23, 2012. You’ll find answers to adverse vaccine reaction frequently asked questions in this earlier 5-part FAQ series. Those answers include how our veterinary neurologist concluded that Lilly’s illness was vaccine induced.

We’re now more than 5 months into Lilly’s recovery, which has been fraught with numerous relapses and setbacks, including some serious ones that began a little over a week ago. This is nowhere near over for us, medically speaking.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Request
Monday, March 12, 2012

Once Lilly’s medical status was somewhat stable, I emailed the company that manufactured the rabies vaccine Lilly received to tell them about her case and to ask what funds were available to help pay her veterinary bills.

I did this both through the company’s main corporate website “contact us” online form and via a direct email to the company’s animal health media contact.

Rather than make this blog post even longer, I’ve uploaded a slightly redacted version of my letter to a static page.

As I’ve said in earlier posts and in the FAQ, I have no plans to reveal the company’s name on the blog.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Request Response
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I received a call from a veterinarian on staff with the vaccine manufacturer. In this first person-to-person contact, she:

  • Assigned a case number to our adverse vaccine reaction report.
  • Told me right away that it was company policy to pay for diagnostic expenses – not treatment, not medications, only diagnostics to the point of diagnosis.
  • Asked me to fax or have the veterinary hospitals fax over Lilly’s pertinent medical records, including proof the vaccine was given and detailed invoices with the diagnostic costs clearly marked.

In our case, the diagnostics included the following items:

  • Both regular veterinary emergency and veterinary neurology emergency exams
  • All the blood work those first few days
  • The MRI and spinal tap, including anesthesia, surgical, and monitoring costs

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Fax
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

That same day, I contacted our team of veterinarians at three different hospitals (our family veterinarian, our ER veterinarian, our veterinary neurologist) and asked them to fax the required documentation directly to the company. I also faxed the company:

  • Lilly’s ER medical records that I had on file
  • All of the invoices requested, with diagnostic items marked

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Follow-up Call
Thursday, March 22, 2012

I made a follow-up call to the company to confirm they’d received the required documentation for our adverse vaccine reaction report.  I had to leave a message for the company veterinarian in charge of our case.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Follow-up Call Response, Friday, March 23, 2012

I received a voicemail message from the company veterinarian in charge of our case. She reported only receiving the invoices and nothing else.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Fax
Friday, March 23, 2012

I called our neurology team, and they reported that their faxes to the company were not going through. I gave them the 800# where they could reach the company veterinarian in charge of our case directly to work out the delivery of Lilly’s medical records.

Rather than bother our family veterinarian, I dug out my copy of Lilly’s rabies certificate and faxed it over to the company with a reminder that I’d sent the ER medical records with the first fax. I included a note about the neurology team’s trouble getting faxes to go through.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Follow-up Call and Response, Thursday, March 29, 2012

I made a follow-up call to the company to confirm they’d received all the required documentation for our adverse vaccine reaction report.

The company veterinarian in charge of our case reported that she had received Lilly’s medical records from the neurologist, but she said she still did not have proof that Lilly received the vaccine.

I reminded her that I’d sent the rabies vaccine certificate myself in a fax dated March 23, 2012. She dug through Lilly’s case file and found the vaccine proof.

She said that she had everything she needed from me and would do a check request and email me “a release” to sign.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Offer
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I received an email from the company with a PDF file attached. The PDF included a letter from the company veterinarian in charge of our case, along with a 9-clause legal release form.

The letter instructed me to sign and return the release form. Once received, the letter states, I would then receive a check from the company for the total cost of diagnostics.

As an aside, I later learned that our family veterinarian also received a copy of this letter by fax, but she did not receive a copy of the release form.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Offer Follow-up Call
Thursday, April 5, 2012

I called the company veterinarian in charge of our case, but I had to leave a message, telling her that I had some questions about the release.

She called me back a few hours later. I asked questions about two clauses in particular. She passed my questions on to company lawyers.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Offer Follow-up Call Response, Friday, April 6, 2012

The company veterinarian in charge of our case called me back with answers to my questions from the company lawyers.  Essentially, they said, “No,” to everything I asked.

My only options, the veterinarian told me, were to:

  • Sign the release as is and take the money.
  • Not sign the release and not take the money.

She shared with me that she had worked in the adverse event department for other drug and vaccine manufacturers in her career, and she told me that this kind of release was standard.

Though she told me that she had never seen lawyer-to-lawyer negotiations on a case not currently in litigation, the company veterinarian in charge of our case wondered aloud if I could have a lawyer send suggested revisions to the release to company lawyers on my behalf.

Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement Declined
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

After receiving the official adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement offer, I conferred with our family veterinarian, several friends who are veterinarians throughout the country, our family attorney, and other trusted advisers.

I called the company veterinarian in charge of our case and officially refused to sign the legal release form, which essentially meant I declined their financial settlement offer as well.

***

In the coming days, I’ll explain what exactly in the legal release gave me pause and why I declined the adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement offer.

 

***

Here are links to all 5 parts of this Adverse Vaccine Reaction Financial Settlement series of posts:

Part 1 – https://championofmyheart.com/2012/07/09/adverse-vaccine-reaction-financial-settlement-part-1/

Part 2 – https://championofmyheart.com/2012/07/10/adverse-vaccine-reaction-financial-settlement-part-2/

Part 3 –https://championofmyheart.com/2012/07/11/adverse-vaccine-reaction-financial-settlement-part-3/

Part 4 – https://championofmyheart.com/2012/07/12/adverse-vaccine-reaction-financial-settlement-part-4/

Part 5 – https://championofmyheart.com/2012/07/13/adverse-vaccine-reaction-financial-settlement-part-5/

 

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

merr - July 10, 2012

I have been following this from the beginning, so I am really interested in the latest. It takes a lot of strength and courage to place one foot in front of the other, and that is exactly what you’ve done every bit of this journey with Miss Lilly. So, I walk with you–albeit virtually–too.
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Cybele - July 10, 2012

OT, but I don’t do Facebook, but maybe and Elizebethan collar or the newer version is in order for Lily at this point. Hang in there.

    Roxanne Hawn - July 10, 2012

    Thanks, Cybele, for the idea. We may have to get a comfy cone or something, but for now, when Lilly cannot be supervised, she stays in a crate with a washable pee pad (like what they use in nursing homes) rather than a diaper so that we can avoid more diaper-eating.

Hilary - July 9, 2012

I, too, am so interested about what was in the settlement offer that prompted you not to take it. And then, since you didn’t, would they not count Lilly as a statistic–thus, no adverse reactions to the drug? Or never had to pay out a customer of the drug? I hate the way these company attorneys work…

I’m glad you did what you thought was right.

    Roxanne Hawn - July 9, 2012

    The adverse event report and the settlement are 2 separate things, so me NOT taking their money does NOT affect the fact that we reported what happened to both the USDA and the vaccine maker. However, I still have NOT heard back from the USDA confirming that our report is on file.

Jackie - July 9, 2012

I’m with MyKidsEatSquid – I bet most folks just sign the form and take the money. Interested to hear what else happened.
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MyKidsEatSquid - July 9, 2012

I’m definitely going to keep reading, I’ve been wondering what the final verdict from the company was on compensating you. I imagine most folks just take the settlement and don’t push so I’m interested to see what happened.
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