Defense Base Act Contractor Denied Vaccine Act Compensation

Petitioner worked for Fluor as a military contractor.  On February 1, 2012, while employed by Fluor in Afghanistan, he received a flu vaccine and subsequently developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The flu vaccine was a Department of Defense requirement, and was distributed at a Fluor clinic at Bagram Airfield.  A few weeks after receiving the shot, Petitioner began to feel weakness and numbness in his extremities.  On March 5, 2012, he filed a claim for Defense Base Act (“DBA”) benefits.  A month and a half later, Petitioner filed a petition for compensation under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (“Vaccine Act”).

The United States Court of Federal Claims was tasked with determine whether Petitioner qualified for Vaccine Act compensation.  Petitioner argued that as a government contract worker stationed in Afghanistan, he was either a member of the Armed Forces or a federal employee.  Even though he filed a DBA claim, Petitioner would be prejudiced by the dismissal of his Vaccine Act petition because the Vaccine Act provides recovery for pain and suffering and for full wage loss, but the DBA does not.

Ultimately, the court determined that Petitioner was not entitled to Vaccine Act compensation for multiple reasons.  The Vaccine Act requires a petitioner to return to the United States within six months of receiving the vaccine unless that person is a member of the Armed Forces or a federal employee.  Here, Petitioner did not return to the U.S. within six months.  He lives in the Philippines. Plus, Petitioner is not a member of the Armed Forces or a federal employee, and the Vaccine Act does not broadly interpret “employee” to include federal contract employees.  Petitioner’s Vaccine Act claim was denied.

Griffin v. Secretary of Health and Human Servs., No. 13-280V, 2014 WL 1653427 (Fed. Cl. Apr. 4, 2014).

Note: There is a great discussion about agency principles in the court’s decision.