ORANGE COUNTY, Calif., Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman filed a Gardasil vaccine injury lawsuit today against manufacturer Merck on behalf of a young man who sustained life-altering injuries he alleges were caused by the HPV vaccine.
Plaintiff Zachariah (Zach) Otto received his first Gardasil shot in Orange County, California when he was 16 years of age. Mr. Otto, now 24 and living in Colorado, alleges multiple Gardasil injections caused him to develop life-altering injuries that have left him unable to work or physically attend college.
"Most people think Gardasil is for girls, but since 2009, Merck has made billions in profit by marketing the HPV vaccine to the parents of boys and to young men," says attorney Nicole K.H. Maldonado. "Through its advertising, Merck sold parents on the idea that Gardasil is a safe and effective tool to stop the spread of HPV and prevent cervical cancer. But Merck knew that Gardasil was neither safe nor effective at preventing cervical cancer, and worse, the company knew that Gardasil could cause a host of serious health issues."
"Merck fast-tracked Gardasil by presenting misleading data to the FDA and fabricating a health crisis," says Mr. Otto's co-counselRobert F. Kennedy Jr. "They claimed they were 'filling an unmet medical' need but in reality, the only thing Merck was interested in filling was the $6 billion financial hole created by the Vioxx scandal."
Plaintiff Zach Otto Developed Several Vaccine Injuries After Receiving Gardasil Shots
Zach Otto was a 16-year-old minor when he received his first shot of Gardasil in 2012. Before agreeing to allow Zach to receive the Gardasil vaccine, his mother, Jennifer Otto, relied upon Merck's ubiquitous representations concerning the vaccine's safety and efficacy. She had viewed various online, print, and television marketing materials stating that Gardasil is very safe, that Gardasil prevents cancer, and that "good mothers" must vaccinate their children with the Gardasil vaccine.
In 2014, Zach received his second Gardasil injection. He shortly thereafter experienced body pains, headaches, cold-like symptoms, unexplained rashes, joint pains, ear pain, and enhanced lymph nodes in his neck. Over the next few months, Zach was in and out of doctors' offices to treat his symptoms.
In 2015, Zach received his third Gardasil injection. Two days later, his knees gave out while he was at work. Unable to move, he called his mother to take him home.
Mr. Otto's health continued to decline in the months that followed. He experienced numerous serious and disabling complications, including weakness, chronic pain in joints, abnormal gait, burning sensation on various parts of his body, hives, extreme weight loss, chronic fatigue, rashes, gastrointestinal issues, severe headaches, inability to sleep, dizziness upon standing, memory and cognitive issues, dysautonomia, and the inability to walk any significant distance without a cane, among many other issues.
In 2016, Mr. Otto tested positive for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), an autoimmune disorder in which people often experience fainting, migraine headaches, anxiety, and a host of other life-changing health issues.
As a result of his injuries, Mr. Otto is unable to engage in the normal activities that a teenager and young adult would enjoy; he had to drop out of college for a time and can no longer work. He is now legally disabled and must live with his mother who acts as his primary caregiver.
Mr. Otto is visited by nurses at his home that administer his intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy to help combat his autoimmune injuries. IVIg therapy is expensive and time-consuming with the recipient hooked up to an IV for hours on end.
Even with treatment, Zach continues to experience many of the Gardasil-induced symptoms outlined above and is forced to be homebound, bedbound, and remains generally inactive. His serious and disabling physical injuries, pain, and mobility limitations have also had a devastating impact on his emotional wellbeing.
According to the complaint, if Mr. Otto knew of the risks associated with the vaccine, he never would have consented to receive it. Likewise, if his mother had been informed about the known safety risks associated with the Gardasil vaccine, she never would have allowed her son to receive his first Gardasil injection.
In filing today's complaint, Zach Otto seeks to hold Merck accountable for causing his life-changing physical and emotional injuries. The complaint accuses Merck of knowingly and recklessly placing Gardasil's profits ahead of patient safety. He is requesting that exemplary (punitive) damages be assessed to deter Merck and other would-be defendants from engaging in similar alleged reprehensible conduct.
Gardasil Lawsuit Allegations
Among other allegations, the complaint filed today accuses Merck of the following (these are allegations only, there has been no determination of liability in this matter):
Merck misled regulators, legislators, and the medical community about the safety and efficacy of the Gardasil HPV vaccine. The vaccine manufacturer knowingly concealed the risks associated with Gardasil's ingredients, which include a potent neurotoxin and potentially hazardous DNA particles.
In seeking fast-track approval for Gardasil, Merck presented misleading data to the FDA suggesting that HPV infections and some abnormal cervical tissue inexorably result in cancer. Gardasil's approval was based on Merck's theory that HPV alone causes cervical cancer, and that the Gardasil vaccine could eliminate cervical cancer and other HPV-associated cancers. None of these contentions are true; Merck has never proven that Gardasil prevents cervical cancer or any type of cancer.
In the Gardasil clinical trials, Merck did not use a true placebo. Instead, Merck "spiked" the placebo with AAHS and the vaccine's other additives, which resulted in approximately equal numbers of subjects in the vaccine group and the placebo group suffering adverse reactions. According to the complaint, this gave the false impression that the Gardasil HPV vaccine was "as safe as a placebo" when, in fact, significant numbers of subjects in both treatment groups suffered many serious medical conditions, including symptoms of autoimmune disease.
Contrary to Merck's assertions that Gardasil is a safe and effective tool for preventing cancer, studies have shown that systemic administration of Gardasil leads to increased rates of cervical cancer and other serious health issues, including the severe side effects Mr. Otto now suffers.
Merck knew or had reason to know that its vaccine was defective and ineffective, but instead of warning the medical community and the public, the company wrongfully concealed information and further made false statements concerning the safety and efficacy of Gardasil.
Gardasil has more reported injuries than any other vaccine on the market. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out millions of dollars in damages for Gardasil-induced injuries and deaths. Despite these injuries and deaths, Gardasil is the most expensive vaccine currently on the market.
About Zach Otto
"My life is a constant battle between attempting to improve my life and being held back by my own body's limitations," says Mr. Otto. "Gardasil has turned my body into a prison, an anchor that won't afford me the ability to live an independent life and one that significantly restricts my ability to grow as a person. Life with vaccine injuries has been a battle, not just to survive, but to live. It's the myriad of doctor appointments and tests, the IVIg I receive every three weeks just to get some level of relief from the chronic pain and weakness that I suffer every day."
Statement from Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman on the Gardasil Litigation
It is important to note that, while there is currently a great deal of controversy surrounding vaccines, the attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman wish to stress that we and our clients are not against vaccines. Vaccines have the potential to eradicate disease and save millions of lives.
However, our firm is against intentional efforts to mislead consumers about the safety and effectiveness of a drug or vaccine. We have always fought—and will continue to fight—for the rights of consumers to be fully and honestly informed about risks associated with any drug, vaccine, chemical, or medical device. We will work tirelessly to ensure those rights are defended and victims of injustice are compensated for their injuries.