Transcript of World Autism Day Press Conference

Coalition for Vaccine Choice praises vote by Vermont House of Representatives

By Mary Holland, Esq.
EBCALA Managing Director

The Vermont legislature recently considered legislation to repeal the right to philosophical exemption from mandatory vaccination. The exemption allows people to refuse mandatory vaccination for themselves and their children without any stated reason, such as a religious one. The right to philosophical exemption is of paramount importance to those in the autism community who believe their children’s autism was vaccine-induced.

While the Vermont Senate voted in favor of the repeal, the Vermont House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 125-4, to retain the right to the philosophical exemption. I had the opportunity to testify before the House Health Committee on behalf of the Center for Personal Rights and submitted a letter in support of vaccination choice as a human right. The issue in Vermont will now go to a House-Senate conference committee.

Attempts to revoke philosophical exemptions have been part of a national campaign over the past year. A Vermont editorial notes that the proposed repeal was based on a template from the pharma-friendly American Legislative Exchange Council.

Mother sues bus company
over daughter’s treatment

By Timothy A. Adams, Esq.
EBCALA Board Member

On March 30, 2012, a mother in Connecticut filed suit against First Student, Inc., a company contracted to provide transportation to students in the Trumbull Public School system. According to the lawsuit, from March to May of 2010, a bus aide, Jennifer Davila assigned to care for a non-verbal 9-year-old student—Isabella Stagliano, instead, physically and emotionally abused Isabella during her trip to and from school. The abuse occurred under the supervision of the bus driver—Davila’s mother, Evelyn Guzman who was often preoccupied sending text messages while operating the bus.

Although school districts usually require employee backgrounds checks as a condition of employment (through the police or Department of Justice), the district may not require independent contractors, such as transportation providers, to also conduct thorough background checks of its staff. Districts rely instead on insurance policies and indemnification agreements with their contractors which help them to avoid liability, but do little (if anything) to protect students. As a result, the school district in this case was not named in the lawsuit and will likely avoid all legal responsibility. To prevail in their negligence claims against the bus company, the Stagliano’s attorneys must demonstrate that the bus company and/or Guzman, its employee/agent both owed a duty of care to Isabella and breached that duty by failing to protect the child from Davila who they knew (or should have known) would harm her.

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