Monday, October 27, 2008

John Doe 21: Justice Delayed

Sick kids make sad cases.
So do long delays.
An unhappy U.S. Court of Federal Claims is giving another chance to the father of a child ostensibly damaged by immunizations. The child is dubbed John Doe 21; his real first name is apparently Jimmy. He was born in May 1999. His mother died of a stroke in March 2002.
Developmentally disabled, John Doe 21 has suffered myriad health problems including encephalitis. In April 2002, his father filed for compensation. Two years later, the deadline for a decision had passed without a compensation decision.
"For reasons that escape the court," claims court Judge Susan G. Braden noted in a new ruling, "it took seven months for the case to be reassigned."
The new special master, John F. Edwards, "then proceeded to take an additional four years to issue a ruling." Braden noted.

Ouch. Just to drill the point home, Judge Braden noted that "by any measure, "these proceedings were not expeditious" as required by law. Braden rejected the long-delayed special master's ruling and has now set a firm 90-day ruling for the latest special master to consider the case of John Doe 21. A ruling, in other words, should come before his 10th birthday.
The full opinion, made public Oct. 21, is at

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