Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic

Established in 1994, the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic was the first of its kind in the country. Students in the year-long clinic represent families of young children and adults seeking compensation for vaccine-related injuries and deaths and appear in trial, mediation, and appellate proceedings before the US Court of Federal Claims and the Office of Special Masters.

Clinic participants become admitted as student-attorneys in the US Court of Federal Claims and, acting under their supervising attorneys, have the authority to do everything that an attorney can do. Working in two-or-three-person teams, students interview prospective clients, draft legal petitions for compensation, obtain and file pertinent medical records with the court, interview and obtain statements from witnesses and medical experts, prepare settlement and damages demands, negotiate with US Department of Justice attorneys, participate in trials, conduct direct and cross-examinations of fact and expert witnesses, prepare opening and closing statements, and draft appellate briefs and argue appeals. In the past, clinic students have also drafted amicus briefs for the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on critical issues in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“NVIC”). Most recently, clinic students have engaged in legislative efforts to improve the NVIC, including drafting legislation and conducting educational meetings with legislative staff addressing issues within the NVIC.

The clinic has obtained millions of dollars of compensation for clients in a wide variety of cases to ensure that children and adults with severe mental and physical disabilities resulting from vaccine injuries receive excellent care for the rest of their lives. The clinic has also won important appellate victories, including rulings from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit making it easier for vaccine-injured persons to obtain compensation in court.

Additional Information

Professorial Lecturer in Law and Co-Director, Renée J. Gentry

Ms. Gentry is the Co-Director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic.

As a named partner with Shoemaker, Gentry & Knickelbein in Vienna, VA, she is one of the leading experts on vaccine injury litigation in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).

Ms. Gentry has advised numerous congressional members, staff, and committees on issues relevant to the NVICP, and she has also helped to draft proposed legislation. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and is admitted to the Federal Claims Court Bar. She is a member of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association, a national bar representing the interests of claimants in the NVICP, where she served as President for four years. She is also a member of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association and the American Association for Justice (formerly ATLA).

Previously, she served as the Senior Analyst on the Defense and Aerospace Companies Briefing for Teal Group Corporation. Ms. Gentry consulted for the US Government, French Government, and major prime contractors on European defense industry consolidation, antitrust issues, specific defense market overviews for product development and profiles of companies designed to assist management in acquisition activities. After leaving Teal Group, she worked as principal liaison to corporate clients, as well as the Washington National Opera and Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program advising them on a range of immigration issues. She has practiced vaccine litigation since 2001.


Visiting Professor of Law and Co-Director, Clifford J. Shoemaker 

Clifford Shoemaker has served as the Co-Director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic since 2007. Mr. Shoemaker graduated from Drake University in 1973 with a JD and an MBA He was a member of the Drake Law Review. After graduation, Mr. Shoemaker entered the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division, where his last assignment was director of the legal assistance program for the entire Marine Corps. During that time, he obtained his LLM in taxation at The George Washington University Law School by attending evening classes. Since leaving active duty in 1977, Mr. Shoemaker has been in private practice, primarily representing children and adults who have been injured by vaccines. During the Swine Flu Litigation in the late 1970s, Mr. Shoemaker served on the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in multi‚Äźdistrict litigation, earning a special bonus for his work from the Honorable Judge Gerhard Gesell, who handled the MDL proceedings.

He tried numerous cases involving injuries, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, following swine flu vaccines in Federal District Courts all over the country. He also successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that military members were entitled to bring claims against the government under the National Swine Flu Act. After that, he was involved in other vaccine litigation and Dalkon Shield litigation. He was involved in the establishment of the no-fault National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) in the late 1980s, and he has been involved in representing clients in that program ever since.

Students in the clinic have the opportunity to become involved in other law reform activities in the vaccine injury area. For example, in 2010 and 2011, students in the clinic researched and drafted amici curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving important vaccine-related issues. In 2010, the clinic submitted a brief in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Inc.a case involving the scope of the Vaccine Act’s preemption provision. In 2011, the class researched and drafted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant review in the Cloer v. The Department of Health and Human Services, a case involving the Vaccine Act’s statute of limitations.

Students have testified in support of legislative changes to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and have submitted detailed Comments on proposed amendments to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Rules for vaccine injury cases. Students have also been involved in the annual Judicial Conferences put on by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, as well as the annual Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association conferences, which are routinely hosted by the law school.

The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic is a two-semester clinic offered for 4-6 credits each semester. The objectives of this clinic include teaching litigation skills, such as interviewing and counseling, investigation and discovery, developing a case theory, researching and drafting written pleadings, oral advocacy, negotiations and proper billing. The Clinic also focuses on professional responsibility, including determining a lawyer’s role, defining and meeting responsibilities, time management, case management, working collaboratively with other professionals and student-attorney colleagues, and resolving ethical issues. Students in the clinic also examine and critique the operation of the NVICP.

Students may not be able to participate in the Clinic if they are also employed (via externship or otherwise) or interning with a federal government agency. Conflicts checks will have to be completed prior to admission into the Clinic.

Most recently students are also given many “value-added” components including opportunities to meet with the Chief Special Master of the Office of Special Masters, attendance at the Federal Judicial Conference as well as invitations to the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association bi-annual meetings, resumé review by a hiring partner in a major law firm, and the opportunity to participate in or observe hearings being conducted by the supervising attorneys or other members of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar.

The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic at The George Washington University represents individuals bringing claims for compensation for vaccine-related injuries before the United States Court of Federal Claims. The Clinic has represented a large number of children and adults in claims involving a variety of vaccines and numerous types of injuries. 

Persons interested in having the Clinic represent them should email Professor Gentry or Professor Shoemaker  or call: 202.994.8161. A law student-attorney will be happy to speak to you about the possibility of representing you, or provide you with further information resources.

Client Eligibility Requirements

The clinic accepts cases involving children and adults injured by or who have died as a result of receiving the following vaccines covered in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program:

  • Vaccines containing tetanus toxoid (e.g., DTaP, DTP, DT, Td, or TT)
  • Vaccines containing whole cell pertussis bacteria, extracted or partial cell pertussis bacteria, or specific pertussis antigen(s) (e.g., DTP, DTaP, P, DTP-Hib)
  • Vaccines containing measles, mumps, and rubella virus or any of its components (e.g., MMR, MM, MMRV)
  • Vaccines containing polio live virus (OPV) or Vaccines containing polio inactivated virus (e.g., IPV)
  • Hepatitis B vaccines
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines
  • Varicella vaccines (PLEASE NOTE: The Shingles vaccine is not covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.)
  • Rotavirus vaccines
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines
  • Hepatitis A vaccines
  • Seasonal influenza vaccines
  • Meningococcal vaccines
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines

Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic Intake Schedule

The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic interviews potential clients through phone intake.

For more information, potential clients should call 202.994.8161 and ask for Professor Shoemaker or Professor Gentry.

Required Documentation and Information

Potential clients should be prepared to provide the following information over the phone:

  • The date and place of vaccine administration
  • Type of vaccine administered
  • Complete list of medical providers – related and unrelated to the vaccine administration – for the three years prior to the vaccination through the present
  • Whether Medicaid has provided treatment at any time for the vaccine injury

Potential clients should be prepared to provide the following documents at an intake interview:

  • Vaccine Administration Record (Proof of vaccination can be in medical records, receipts from pharmacies, or individual information sheets provided. In some circumstances, a case may proceed without direct proof of vaccination when sufficient circumstantial evidence is available.)
  • Copies of any related medical records in the client’s possession. Authorizations will be obtained so that the clinic can collect the records directly from the providers.
  • Relevant personal documents such as birth certificates, letters of administration of the estate (if the injured person has died), insurance cards, signed HIPAA authorization forms allowing for collection of medical records

“Fixing the Flaws in the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program,” Peter H. Meyers, Administrative Law Journal [pdf]

“Vaccines: An Issue of Trust,” Consumer Reports, August 2001, 17- 21 [pdf]

“The Immune Response,” Wendy Davis, ABA Journal, October 2010, 48-54

“Vaccine Injury Clinic Wins Major Victory,” GW Law Magazine, Spring 2003.

“GW Law School’s Vaccine Injury Clinic Wins Multi-Million Dollar Compensation Victory,” Press Release, October 16, 2002.

Watch Professor Meyers briefly explain the current state of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Q: What costs do I have to pay if I am a client of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic?

A: If you become a client of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic, you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees or costs.

Q: Will my case be made public?

A: The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic operates as any law firm with respect to maintaining confidentiality of our clients. However, the fact that you filed a claim in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program will be a matter of public record. Minor children’s names will be redacted to initials however the parents’ full names will appear in the case name. The ultimate decision of the Court will likely be public, including certain medical information listed in the Decision. Actual medical records and financial evidence however are sealed and unavailable to the public.

Q: Am I suing my doctor or pharmacy?

A: No. You are not suing the administrator or manufacturer of the vaccination. You, as the Petitioner, are filing a claim in a no-fault compensation Program. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is the Respondent and is represented by the U.S. Department of Justice attorneys. A Petition in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is not a lawsuit.

Q: What compensation is available to me as the Petitioner if I win?

A: There are three areas of compensation in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Out of pocket unreimbursable expenses related to the vaccine injury, actual and/or projected lost earnings, and pain and suffering are the elements of damages for vaccine-related injuries. $250,000 is the death benefit if it can be demonstrated that a death is related to a vaccine-related injury.

If you are an adult that has been injured you are entitled to:

  • Actual out of pocket unreimbursable expenses that result from the vaccine-related injury.
  • Pain & suffering in an amount not to exceed $250,000.00.
  • Actual past and future lost wages.
  • Reimbursement of any Medicaid Lien you have incurred related to your vaccine injury.

If you are the parent of a vaccine injured child the majority of the compensation awarded will be awarded to you "as the guardian of the estate of the minor child." You will likely be required to become the guardian of your child’s estate through local counsel in your local jurisdiction. Your child is entitled to:

  • Actual out of pocket unreimbursable expenses that result from the vaccine-related injury. All previously incurred expenses paid by you will be reimbursed to you directly while the future projected out of pocket expenses will be payable to you as guardian of your child’s estate. Future payments of a substantial amount will likely be payable partially in a lump sum amount and partially in an annuity.
  • Lost wages based on a formula in the statute.
  • Your child is also entitled to pain & suffering in an amount not to exceed $250,000.00. Unfortunately, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program does not compensate parents for their pain & suffering watching their child be injured.
  • Reimbursement of any Medicaid Lien you have incurred related to your child’s vaccine injury.

NOTE: Both vaccine injured adults and the parents of vaccine injured children are entitled to reimbursement of litigation expenses (including the cost of establishing a guardianship) at the conclusion of the case. Litigation expenses are reimbursed to you win or lose so long as the case was filed in good faith and there was a reasonable basis to file.

NOTE: Other than the Medicaid lien noted above, compensation is not subject to any other liens, taxes or attorneys’ fees.

Q: I am already represented in the Vaccine Court but would like to change attorneys. Can the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic take my claim?

A: We are happy to review your filed claim, with your authorization, and determine whether we can represent you.

Q: I filed my own claim in the Vaccine Court without an attorney but would like to get an attorney or have been instructed by the Court to get an attorney. Can the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic take my claim?

A: We are happy to review your filed claim, with your authorization, and determine whether we can represent you.

Q: I would like to sue my doctor or pharmacy for my vaccine injury. Can the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic take my claim?

A: No. The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic solely represents people in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Q: I do not live in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. Can the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic take my claim?

A: Yes. We represent clients from all over the United States. We are happy to review your filed claim, with your authorization, and determine whether we can represent you.

  • Clinic students have procured millions of dollars in damages for vaccine injured adults and children.
  • Clinic students have written amicus briefs for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the US Supreme Court.
  • Clinic students have advised members and committees of Congress and drafted legislation to improve the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that has been introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The following articles have been written by current/former Professors and student-attorneys in the Clinic:

Clifford J. Shoemaker, Co-Author: The Swine Flu Litigation, Litigation, The Journal of the Section of Litigation, American Bar Association, Vol. 8, No. 1, Fall, 1981.

Clifford J. Shoemaker: A Call To Arms, Mealeys. "Shoemaker on Vaccines," monthly featured articles, Mealey's Litigation Report: Thimerosal and Vaccines, July 2002.

Peter H. Meyers, Fixing the Flaws in the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, 63 ADMIN. L. REV. 785, 801 (2011).

Michelle Riestra, Confusion in the Federal Circuit Over the Nature of the Vaccine Act Requires a Congressional Remedy, 24 Fed. Cir. B.J. 515.

Megan Robertson, Molecular Mimicry: Exemplifying the Procedural Insufficiencies of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, 26 Fed. Cir. B.J. 513.