In 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act law was passed which provided vaccine manufacturers with immunity from lawsuits. Afterwards, the number of vaccines on the vaccination schedule expanded rapidly. According to an EPA study (here), autism diagnoses began dramatically increasing in 1988 due to environmental factors.
The 1986 law created a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), to provide compensation for vaccine injuries. This is sometimes mistakenly called “Vaccine Court”, but in reality it is not a judicial court but instead is an administrative program. There is no jury for VICP, and petitioners do not have right to regular rules of evidence (e.g. disclosure) as in judicial courts. Instead HHS appoints judges (“Special Masters”) who have no medical background to serve a term ruling on vaccine-injury cases; if a ruling is in favor of the petitioner, vaccine-injury compensation is paid from a fund managed by HHS. Essentially VICP consists of HHS attorneys seeking to sway an HHS-appointed judge, using HHS-funded science as evidence, in order to avoid compensation payments by HHS for injuries from the vaccine program that was created and approved by HHS (the CDC and FDA are divisions with HHS).
The deck is stacked against the petitioners. In January 2009, the HHS suppressed needed vaccine-autism research because the research might be viewed as weakening the HHS position in cases before the VICP (see Government suppression of vaccine-injury research). The vaccine-injury petitioner must provide scientific research explaining specifically how the vaccine caused the injury, but the HHS avoids funding the necessary scientific research that could provide such answers. In addition, VICP has a short statute of limitations, an extremely adversarial atmosphere, no jury, inadequate procedural rules and extremely limited discovery.
Up to this date, VICP has ruled in favor of compensation for many children with autism who claimed a specific vaccine-injury other than autism. In May 2011, a study published in Pace Environmental Law Review found 83 cases of acknowledged vaccine-induced brain damage that include autism from a partial review of compensated cases. Fox News reported on this ground-breaking news in a series of stories:
Probe to Reveal Link Between Vaccine Settlements and Autism:
Vaccine-Autism link: New Investigation