Legal and Advocacy Training for Attorneys, Parents, and Advocates
“There are, I think, several factors which contribute to wisdom. Of these, I should put first a sense of proportion: the capacity to take account of all the important factors in a problem and attach to each its due weight.”
Knowledge and Wisdom – Bertrand Russell
Legal Training for Attorneys, Parents, and Advocates
The Birt Center launched at the AutismOne Conference 2009 in Chicago.
The Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy
Elizabeth Birt (1956 - 2005) is one of the heroes of the Revolution. Liz epitomized all that is right and strong and true about our collective movement. She helped bring to life a vibrant urgency of change.
Liz was an attorney, a co-founder of SafeMinds, a founding member of the National Autism Association, a co-founder of A-CHAMP, and a principal author of Mercury in Medicine, the 2003 report by the House Government Reform Committee that found mercury in vaccines was toxic.
Most importantly, Liz was a mom. In 1996 Liz’s son, Matthew, then 15-months old, was diagnosed with autism. Liz spent the rest of her life helping her son and other affected children and families.
As certainly as Bernie Rimland was the father of the modern autism movement Liz was the mother. The Birt Center is founded in her honor to continue her work.
The Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy
Autism is a human rights violation privileged in denial of origin, increase, and remedy, existent in the absence of justice, manifest in institutional discrimination. The long struggle endured daily in securing medical treatment, obtaining educational opportunity, affording care, and safeguarding the future of our children continues.
There is no freedom or justice. There is only denial. It is going to take legislative and legal action to end the epidemic, to help heal our children, to establish proper boundaries and oversight, to investigate the impunity of inaction, and to provide justice.
The Center offers 12.75 Continuing Legal Education Units.
Robert Krakow, Esq.
Mary Holland, Esq.
Jennifer Keefe, Esq.
Jim Moody, Esq.
The Birt Center will consist of:
1. Legal Training;
2. A think tank;
3. A resource center (including a referral service and pro bono network).
Some of the presenters/participants included:
Tim Adams, Esq.
Sylvia Chin-Caplan, Esq.
Barbara Loe Fisher
Mark Geier, MD, PhD
Renee Gentry, Esq
Martha Herbert, MD, PhD
Mary Holland, Esq.
Jennifer Keefe, Esq.
Robert Krakow, Esq.
Arthur Krigsman, MD
Jim Moody, Esq.
Tom Powers, Esq.
Michael F. Ruggio, Esq.
Andrew Wakefield, MD
MISSION STATEMENT (evolving)
The mission of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy is to address the immediate and ongoing legal and advocacy needs of the autism community. The Center seeks to provide:
- Legal education on autism issues
- Resources for legal practitioners and advocates
- A “think tank” to strategize about the legal and advocacy needs of the autism community
Autism affects children, parents and their communities with medical, legal, social and educational challenges. Serious unmet needs often begin before a formal diagnosis and extend throughout the lives of the affected individuals, families and communities.
Government leaders and agencies have failed to explore and identify autism’s causes, at-risk populations, and impact.
Using legal and advocacy tools, the Center seeks to identify and address these systemic failures and to achieve greater justice for the injured and their communities.
Specifically, the Center seeks to educate lawyers, parent advocates and others in state-of-the-art legal and medical aspects of autism. Leading attorneys, scientists and advocates will review the most current and critical issues affecting the autism community at periodic conferences. The Center also seeks to make resources available to assist lawyers and advocates in their work on autism. Over time, we expect to offer a referral service and facilitate pro bono legal services for the autism community.
|The think tank will try to map new legal and advocacy strategies to meet the challenges of autism. It will identify and promote practical tools and techniques, develop original legal approaches, partner with existing organizations, produce legal guides, cultivate broader participation and work to improve the Center.
BIOS & ABSTRACTS
Timothy A. Adams, Esq.
Special Education Law, Tim Adams, Esq. & Lynne Arnold
Christopher E. Angelo, Esq.
Christopher E. Angelo is a consumer contingency fee trial attorney representing those catastrophically injured by insurance companies, defective product manufacturers, defectively constructed buildings and other corporate malfeasance. Mr. Angelo has prosecuted and established pro-consumer legal precedents that have received national attention in areas affecting healthcare, biotechnology, environmental clean-up and insurance. He is also the proud father of an 18-year-old son with autism.
After his son was diagnosed in 1994, Mr. Angelo proposed a mental health parity state mandate to overrule all “mental and nervous disorder” exclusions in California health plans. With the help of UCLA, this state mandate ultimately became known as AB88 and is now the most progressive autism state mandate in the nation. Mr. Angelo has spoken throughout California and other states on how parents and professionals can perfect medically necessary major medical coverage for autism under their private healthcare plans.
Perfecting Private Insurance Coverage for Autism
Barbara Loe Fisher
is co-founder & president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children. She is the co-author of the seminal 1985 book "DPT: A Shot in the Dark" and author of the 1998 book "Vaccines, Autism & Chronic Inflammation: The New Epidemic." She is a blogger and editor of the NVIC E-newsletter. She has served on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee; Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Forum; FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee; Vaccine Policy Analysis Collaborative and Consumers United for Evidence-Based Healthcare - Cochrane Collaboration (US). The mother of three, including a son who suffered a brain inflammation after his fourth DPT shot in 1980 and was left with multiple learning disabilities, she has defined the grassroots vaccine safety and informed consent movement for the past quarter century in the media, in state legislatures, Congress and in many other public forums.
Legislation, Advocacy and Action in Autism, Barbara Loe Fisher & Rick Rollens
Renée J. Gentry, Esq.
joined Shoemaker & Associates in October 2001. She received her Juris Doctorate from Washington University Law School in 1995, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/History from Drake University in 1992. She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, and is admitted to the Federal Claims Court Bar. At Shoemaker & Associates she specializes in damages and appellate work in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
The Science of Autism: Martha Herbert, MD, PhD
The thinking behind this talk is laid out much more extensively in the following in-press article:
Autism: The Centrality of Active Pathophysiology and the Shift from Static to Chronic Dynamic Encephalopathy
Martha R. Herbert, MD, PhD
Mary Holland, Esq.
is Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at New York University School of Law. Educated at Harvard and Columbia Universities, Mary has been an advocate in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining NYU, she worked for six years at major U.S. law firms, with three years based in Moscow, Russia. Before that, she directed the European Program of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First). After graduating law school, she clerked for a federal district court judge in New York City. She researches and writes on legal issues related to autism and vaccines and consults to the Aspen Institute Justice and Society Program.
Parents' Rights in the Autism Epidemic, Mary Holland, Esq.
Jennifer Keefe , Esq.
is a trial lawyer for a major national law firm who has been nominated by her peers four years in a row as one of Texas' Rising Stars in Texas Monthly Magazine (2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009). She assists clients in a wide range of business litigation, including patent infringement-related suits, financial institution disputes, and traditional oil and gas problems. Ms. Keefe has received several awards for her pro bono activities which have ranged from defending asylum cases before the U.S. Immigration courts for Human Rights Initiative of North Texas to advising on the steering committee for both BRAINS for Autism at the University of Texas Southwestern and the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy. She received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and law degree from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Vaccineography 101: The Evolution & Ethical Considerations in the U.S. Vaccine Approval Process, Jennifer Keefe, Esq.
Arthur Krigsman, MD
Sylvia Chin-Caplan, Esq
Autism and Vaccines in the US Omnibus Hearings: Legal and Gastrointestinal Perspectives of the Michelle Cedillo Case, Arthur Krigsman, MD & Sylvia Chin-Caplan, Esq.
Tom Powers, Esq.
is a partner in the Portland, Oregon law firm Williams Love O'Leary & Powers. He represents people seriously injured by dangerously defective pharmacuetical products and medical devices, as well as handling individual catastrophic injury and death cases. He has worked on national "mass-tort" litigations including Rezulin, PPA, PPH, hormone therapy, asbestos, and pain-pumps. As a leader of the Petitioners’ Steering Committee pursuing autism and other injury claims in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Tom coordinates discovery efforts on behalf of nearly 5,000 thimerosal-injured children seeking compensation in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Tom participated in two of the 2007 "Theory One" test case trials in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, involving thimerosal exposure and the MMR vaccine leading to autism. Tom and his partner Mike Williams were lead trial counsel in all three of the "Theory Two" test cases in the OAP heard in 2008, involving thimerosal exposure and autistic regression.
He is co-chair of the Legislative Committee of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA), serves on the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar's Products Liability Section, and is a member of the American Association for Justice, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and the Multnomah Bar Association. He is on the board of directors of the OTLA PAC and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Several of Tom's articles have appeared in bar and professional and publications, and he regularly makes presentations at CLE seminars and professional association meetings. Tom is admitted to practice in Oregon, Washington State, the US Court of Federal Claims, and is admitted pro hac vice in state and federal courts around the country.
Autism Omnibus Proceedings, Tom Powers, Esq.
Michael F. Ruggio, Esq.
has extensive litigation experience in representation of CAM associations, individual hospitals and physician practices that focus on integrative treatments and products. He has successfully expanded the laws in several states through his vigorous litigation in this area to open medical boards and medical educational institutions to this evolving area of health care. Mr. Ruggio has represented many large and small dietary supplement companies before the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration on many regulatory and litigation matters, including DESHA. One of his cases involved one of the largest FTC actions against dietary supplement producers, U.S. v QVC, Inc. (2001) Garden State Nutritionals, Nutrition 21 and their spokespeople on QVC. Other matters include defense of products against aggressive FDA and FTC actions involving producers and distributors. He has also been involved in numerous pharmaceutical, e-health technology, and bio-health cases concerning average wholesale pricing issues, reimbursement fraud, medical necessity and other related matters. He represents numerous large and mid-size integrative medicine groups and many integrative and health freedom trade associations. He is outside general counsel for the American Association of Health Freedom and Optimal Health, P.C. He was lead trial counsel in the largest Medicare and Medicaid health care carrier case in the U.S., and recovered damages of $144 million for the Federal Insurance Fund and has subsequently used this experience to defend numerous hospitals on Medicare and Medicaid issues. As Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Ruggio assisted in the investigation and plea negotiation in one of the largest medical device fraud cases in the state of Virginia. He also has experience in affirmative defense fraud litigation and civil suits.
Mr. Ruggio is the recipient of many awards by the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General’s award for outstanding work in the U.S. vs. HCSC case.
He focuses his practice on both health care and civil litigation, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical clinical trials; average wholesale pricing and compounding pharmacies in addition to health freedoms, institutional and physician integrative or complementary and alternative medicine and medicine representation, health care fraud and abuse and white-collar.
Dangerous Profession: Practicing Alternative Medicine in the 21st Century - Michael Ruggio, Esq.
Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath
is an academic gastroenterologist. He graduated in Medicine from St. Mary's Hospital (part of the University of London) in 1981, pursuing a career in gastrointestinal surgery with a particular interest in inflammatory bowel disease. He qualified as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985, and in 1996 was awarded a Wellcome Trust Traveling Fellowship to study small-intestine transplantation in Toronto, Canada. Discoveries made during his work in Canada led him on return to the UK to pursue the study of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. In 1998, he and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital in London reported a novel inflammatory bowel disease in children with developmental disorders such as autism; the condition later became known as autistic enterocolitis. Dr. Wakefield resisted pressure to stop his research on the possible links between childhood immunizations, intestinal inflammation and autism, leaving the Royal Free School of Medicine in 2001. He is involved in many scientific research collaborations in the U.S and abroad, investigations centering on the immunologic, metabolic, and pathologic changes occurring in inflammatory bowel diseases such as autistic enterocolitis, links between intestinal disease and neurologic injury in children, and the possible relationship of these conditions to environmental causes, such as childhood vaccines. During the course of his work on childhood developmental disorders, Dr. Wakefield was increasingly convinced of the need for a research-oriented, integrated bio-medical and educational approach to these disorders, in order to translate clinical benefits for affected children into measurable developmental progress; this is the driving aim of Thoughtful House. As of the beginning of 2007, Dr. Wakefield has published one hundred thirty-four original scientific articles, book chapters, and invited scientific commentaries. He was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2001; he is medical advisor to the United Kingdom charity Visceral, and sits on the board of the U.S. charity Medical Interventions for Autism.
William R. Long, MDiv, PhD, JD
Bill is the author or co-author of eleven books and numerous articles on subjects of law, religion and history. Most of his writing these days is focused on the 4,000+ mini-essays on this web site, primarily on legal subjects, words, history, exposition of classic texts (such as Shakespeare), and reviews of current events or movies. He launched his autism "page" on November 1, 2007 and his page called "Supreme Court Times" on November 27, 2007. To date he has posted the equivalent of more than sixty 200 to 240-page books of mini-essays on this site.
Bill holds the B.A. and Ph. D. from Brown University in Providence, R.I., the J.D. from Willamette, the M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA and was the recipient of a prestigious DAAD (Deutscher akademischer Austauschdienst) award for research and dissertation writing at the University of Tuebingen, Germany (1980-81).
Law and the Court of Public Opinion: Andrew Wakefield, MD & William Long, PhD, JD