The petitioners in this case have advanced a causation theory that has several parts, including contentions (1) that thimerosal-containing vaccines can cause immune dysfunction, (2) that the MMR vaccine can cause autism, and (3) that the MMR vaccine can cause chronic gastrointestina dysfunction. However, as to each of those issues, I concluded that the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ contentions. The expert witnesses presented by the respondent were far better qualified, far more experienced, and far more persuasive than the petitioners’ experts, concerning most of the key points. The numerous medical studies concerning these issues, performed by medical scientists worldwide, have come down strongly against the petitioners’ contentions. Considering all of the evidence, I found that the petitioners have failed to demonstrate that thimerosal-containing vaccines can contribute to causing immune dysfunction, or that the MMR vaccine can contribute to causing either autism or gastrointestinal dysfunction. I further conclude that while Michelle Cedillo has tragically suffered from autism and other severe conditions, the petitioners have also failed to demonstrate that her vaccinations played any role at all in causing those problems.The conclusion is even more blunt:
This case, however, is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories. The result of this case would be the same even if I totally ignored the epidemiologic evidence, declined to consider the video evidence, and/or excluded the testimony of Dr. Bustin. The result would be the same if I restricted my consideration to the evidence originally filed into the record of this Cedillo case, disregarding the general causation evidence from the Hazlehurst and Snyder cases. The petitioners’ evidence has been unpersuasive on many different points, concerning virtually all aspects of their causation theories, each such deficiency having been discussed in detail above. The petitioners have failed to persuade me that there is validity to any of their general causation arguments, and have also failed to persuade me that there is any substantial likelihood that Michelle’s MMR vaccination contributed in any way to the causation of any of Michelle’s own disorders. To the contrary, based upon all the evidence that I have reviewed, I find that it is extremely unlikely that any of Michelle’s disorders were in any way causally connected to her MMR vaccination, or any other vaccination.In reading the opinion, I could not help but compare it to Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was found by a federal court to simply be repackaged creationism. The circumstances are similar; the existence of an issue in which the scientific consensus went one way and popular opinion often went another. A court looked at the issue and agreed with the scientists. The decision is not as well-written as the Kitzmiller decision but the result is similar.
In short, this is a case in which the evidence is so one-sided that any nuances in the
interpretation of the causation case law would make no difference to the outcome of the case.
We can learn from the impact of Kitzmiller to hypothesize what this decision will have. After Kitzmilker, intelligent design is still going strong, and many people still believe that ID is distinct from creationism and that ID is a scientific theory that should be taught in our public schools. The Cedillo decision will almost certainly not have a substantial impact on popular opinion. If anything, Cedillo will likely have even less impact than Kitzmiller had. With intelligent design, the main conflict occurs from proponents attempting to add ID into our public school biology classes. Kitzmiller set a precedent that teaching ID is unconstitutional and that trying to do so makes a school board lose time and money. Such a precedent has real weight when communities consider adding ID to the school curriculum. However, with vaccination, the issue of monetary compensation for families with autistic children has always been a side issue. The direct conflict occurs primarily with new parents debating whether they should have their children vaccinated. A legal decision such as Cedillo will not have as much impact on peoples' behavior. If the general public is to be convinced that vaccines are safe, they must be convinced through education, not legal decisions.