Sahara Walker

Young Woman Files Suit Over Alleged Gardasil HPV Vaccine Injuries

Our national law firm, Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, has brought forth a legal complaint on behalf of a young woman, Sahara Walker, who alleges she developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and a catalog of other serious health conditions after receiving the Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc.

Attorneys Michael L. Baum, Bijan Esfandiari, Nicole K. H. Maldonado, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (as co-counsel) filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. It names defendants Merck & Co., Inc. and its subsidiary Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., both of New Jersey.

A resident of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Ms. Walker received her first dose of the HPV vaccine when she was 11 years old on her doctor’s recommendation. During the same appointment, she also received the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) and meningococcal conjugate vaccines. The next five years of her life were spent battling severe health conditions, and she was unable to attend school and enjoy activities she used to. Now, at 19 years old, she is still living with several disabilities.

In the complaint, case no. 3:20-cv-01048, our firm alleges negligence, failure to warn, manufacturing defects, and more, as well as argues that Merck should have known that the HPV vaccine is both ineffective and defective. Our attorneys assert that Merck purportedly concealed information and falsely marketed the nature of the vaccine. Therefore, the suit seeks punitive damages from Merck for, as our firm’s press release states, “creating a substantial risk of significant harm to children and patients who were injected with the Gardasil HPV vaccine.”

“Merck is using the same development and marketing playbook for Gardasil that it used when it promoted Vioxx [rofecoxib] as a headache pill knowing it caused heart attacks,” Attorney Kennedy said. “Vioxx killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and Merck paid $7 billion in penalties and damages and agreed to stop falsifying science. Sadly, Merck learned no lessons.”

Moreover, per Attorney Maldonado, there is data that suggests Merck presented the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with false information regarding the link between HPV and cervical cancer. This link was the very reason why the FDA fast tracked the vaccine.

“Merck to this day has never properly tested Gardasil to ensure it is safe, and now Sahara and countless others are suffering from debilitating injuries,” Attorney Maldonado said. “We will hold Merck accountable for the harm the company has caused.”

Ms. Walker’s Life Before the Vaccine

Prior to being vaccinated for HPV, Ms. Walker was a very healthy, happy child. She was an excellent student who had scored in the top-97th percentile out of Wisconsin students in mathematics. Considered a mathlete, her intellect and skill won her tournaments; she even advanced to state but was unable to attend due to her poor health.

As is the story with many other children asserting the HPV vaccine caused them injury, Ms. Walker’s mother consented to the vaccination because she had been told that Gardasil was very safe and that it would decrease her daughter’s risk of cervical cancer. She was simply trying to be a responsible mother.

“We are pro-vaccine,” stated Mrs. Melissa Roglitz-Walker, Ms. Walker’s mother. “We would have never had Sahara get the Gardasil vaccine if we didn't believe in the importance of vaccines. But since she became sick and disabled within days of getting the shot, we firmly believe her adverse reactions were caused by the Gardasil vaccine.”

Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is of the same opinion: We are not against vaccines as they have the potential to eradicate disease and save millions of lives, but we are against intentional efforts to mislead consumers about the safety and effectiveness of a drug or vaccine. Our firm has 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, medical device, or consumer product. Therefore, we will continue to fight for accountability on behalf of Ms. Walker and those injured in the same manner.

Health Issues Arise After Vaccination

Two days after receiving the vaccine, Ms. Walker started to experience severe headaches and bouts of vomiting. Next came severe body aches, then fevers, excessive sleeping, extreme fatigue, and dizziness, among other problems. Only a month later, she became bedridden. If she had to go anywhere, she needed to use a wheelchair.

To date, Ms. Walker has been diagnosed with numerous medical conditions, including neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), orthostatic hypotension (OH), small fiber neuropathy, and autonomic neuropathy. Her health rendered her unable to continue in her prior form of schooling; she had to be homeschooled from grade 6 to grade 12.

Ms. Walker’s conditions currently require her to take 14 prescription medications and receive intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment at home. While very expensive, this treatment — administered every three weeks via a central line in her chest—allows Ms. Walker to not be confined to her bed. IVIG treatment has helped her walk again and even mountain bike.

The complaint allegations seek, therefore, to hold Merck accountable for its negligence and recklessness, as well as to have the manufacturer answer for the physical and emotional trauma which Ms. Walker continues to endure.

Contact Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman online or call us at (855) 948-5098.

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