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Nevada Teacher Says Life ‘Became a Constant Struggle’ After Gardasil Vaccine
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC
Reno, NV
Thursday, April 15, 2021

Gardasil Plaintiff Savannah Flores

A Gardasil lawsuit filed on behalf of a 23-year-old school teacher alleges the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine caused her to develop a multitude of severe and debilitating health problems.

Plaintiff Savannah Flores of Reno, Nevada, says her life "became a constant struggle" after receiving the Gardasil vaccine at age 14. Now a teacher in the Elko County School District, Savannah hopes her case and others like it will force Merck to do the right thing and disclose  adverse events associated with the Gardasil HPV vaccine.

Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman attorneys Bijan EsfandiariNicole K. H. MaldonadoMichael L. Baum, Monique Alarcon, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr (co-counsel) filed the latest Gardasil lawsuit (Case No. 3:21-cv-00166) in The United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The defendants named in the complaint include New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc. and its subsidiary, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

Baum Hedlund is one of the leading firms in the country filing Gardasil injury lawsuits. Since the summer of 2020, the firm has filed complaints on behalf of the following young women and men who allege Gardasil caused them to develop severe health issues:

Korrine Herlth of Connecticut

Kayla Carrillo of California

Michael Colbath of California

Zach Otto of Colorado

Julia Balasco of Rhode Island

Sahara Walker of Wisconsin

The lawsuits accuse Merck of fraud, negligence and failing to warn consumers about severe side effects associated with Gardasil, among other allegations. The complaints seek punitive damages against Merck over the company's alleged intentional misrepresentations, deception and concealment of the risks related to Gardasil and its conscious disregard for the safety of others.

Gardasil Lawyers: Merck Failed to Thoroughly Test HPV Vaccine

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed Gardasil to be fast-tracked, a process reserved for serious diseases where a new drug or vaccine fills an unmet and urgent medical need. Fast-tracking effectively expedites the drug or vaccine approval process. Critics argue that fast-tracking can leave unanswered safety questions.

According to the Gardasil lawsuit allegations, Merck designed the Gardasil clinical trials to mask serious side effects. The lawsuits accuse Merck of:

  • Using a toxic (spiked) placebo to mask injuries between the vaccinated and control groups.
  • Cutting the dose of aluminum—Gardasil's most toxic ingredient—in half for clinical trial participants in the vaccinated group to mask side effects.
  • Selectively limiting clinical trial participant entry to exclude anyone who seemed likely to suffer injuries or adverse reactions to any of Gardasil's ingredients.
  • Failing to use appropriate protocols for reporting adverse events to mask injuries.
  • Falsely telling clinical trial participants that the placebo was a saline solution and that the vaccine was already proven safe to make it less likely participants would report adverse events.
  • Dismissing adverse event reports as unrelated to the vaccine to mask the dangers.

Lawsuit Alleges Merck Has Never Proven That Gardasil Prevents Cervical Cancer

Merck achieved fast-track status, at least in part, because the company claimed that Gardasil would effectively 'eliminate cervical cancers and other HPV-associated cancers.' According to Baum Hedlund attorneys, however, Merck's claim is unproven and overblown.

Merck's clinical trials were not designed to test whether Gardasil could prevent cervical cancer. Instead, Merck tested Gardasil against the development of precancerous lesions. Under Merck's untested theory, reducing these precancerous lesions would result in less cervical cancer cases over 20 to 30 years. According to the Gardasil lawsuits, however, Merck's foundational theory that HPV alone causes cervical cancer, while dogmatically asserted, has never been proven.

According to data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER), the incidence of deaths from cervical cancer prior to Gardasil's introduction in the U.S. was in steady decline. In 2006, the year Gardasil entered the U.S. marketplace, approximately 1 in every 42,000 women died of cervical cancer. The currently available rate is essentially unchanged; data from 2017 shows that roughly 1 in every 43,500 women died of cervical cancer.

While Merck has never proven Gardasil's ability to prevent cervical cancer, clinical trials for the HPV vaccine did find that 2.3% of girls showed indicators of autoimmune disease. Weighed against the SEER data above, women are 1,000 times more likely to develop a serious adverse event from Gardasil than be protected from cervical cancer.

"Merck continues to rake in billions in profit from Gardasil based on its fraudulent claim that it has shown that the vaccines prevent cervical cancers," says attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. "Fifteen years after Gardasil's release with more than 76 million people vaccinated, cervical cancer rates are skyrocketing among vaccinated age groups around the globe and vaccinated children are experiencing a tsunami of debilitating injuries. History will condemn this product as one of Big Pharma's most grotesque public health boondoggles. It is the symbol of the obscene triumph of regulatory corruption over democracy and corporate greed over public health."

Plaintiff Developed POTS and Other Health Issues After Gardasil

Savannah Flores was a healthy and active teen. She was an avid swimmer, enjoyed playing basketball at her local Boys & Girls Club, and loved attending the camps her church organized.

At 14, her doctor recommended the Gardasil vaccine. Savannah's mother, Rhonda Smithson, allowed her daughter to receive the "cervical cancer vaccine" after Merck expressly represented Gardasil as "safe" and "effective" in preventing cancer. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, Merck's marketing went so far as to say that anyone vaccinated with Gardasil would be "one less" person with cancer.

Soon after Savannah received her first injection in November of 2012, she developed symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. Savannah and her parents also noticed that hair began growing on her face and chest.

Things only got worse when Savannah received her second Gardasil injection in February of 2013, just days after her 15th birthday. She began to experience symptoms of dysautonomia, such as trembling, shaking, chest pressure, palpitations, and headaches.

In March of 2013, Savannah went to the hospital multiple times for episodes of chest pains, dizziness, and tachycardia. Her health would continue in a downward spiral. Several physicians and specialists evaluated Savannah for a growing list of medical problems, which now included severe migraines, tachycardia and heart palpitations, vertigo, and menstrual irregularities, among many others.

Faced with debilitating and severe health issues and little relief, Savannah could no longer participate in the activities she once enjoyed. As a high school sophomore, she had trouble keeping up with classes. Around this time, Savannah briefly required walking assistance.

Due to her deteriorating health, Savannah could no longer attend classes in person. She finished out her sophomore year doing one-on-one learning at home. While Savannah was able to return to in-person learning on a part-time basis as a junior and full-time as a senior, her unceasing health problems and constant doctor appointments made her academic and social life restrictive and challenging.

Based on her chronic and severe post-Gardasil symptoms, physicians have diagnosed Savannah with various medical conditions, including but not limited to:

POTS is a debilitating syndrome. Those with the diagnosis often suffer from symptoms on a daily basis. When a person is lying down, approximately one-quarter of their blood volume resides in the chest area. When the person stands up, a significant amount of that blood shifts to the lower extremities. This causes impaired return of blood flow to the heart which also reduces blood pressure. 

In healthy individuals, the autonomic nervous system adjusts the heartrate to counteract this effect and the hemodynamic changes are negligible. However, in individuals who are now suffering from dysautonomia or autonomic ailments, such as POTS, the body's ability to adjust the heartrate and compensate for the blood flow is corrupted resulting in a host of wide ranging symptoms, including but not limited to, dizziness, vertigo, woozy sensation, chronic headaches, vision issues, light and sound sensitivity, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal issues, body pains, insomnia, confusion, difficulty sleeping and/or disability. 

After graduating high school, Savannah was physically unable to attend college classes on campus due to her post-Gardasil symptoms. While her health may have forced her to put her career dreams on hold, she never stopped dreaming. At 19, Savannah decided she wanted to be a teacher. After years of hard work and determination, Savannah is beginning to realize her ambition. She currently works as a substitute teacher in the Elko County School District while also pursuing a secondary education degree at Great Basin College with an endorsement in English and language arts. She hopes to become a full-time teacher in the winter if her health allows.

While grit and determination have helped Savannah overcome severe and adverse health issues, she still regularly faces challenges. Her migraines are so debilitating that they occasionally cause blindness. "I live in fear of the next migraine. It's scary not knowing at any given time whether I'll get a migraine or have another symptom that lays me up for a day or more," says Savannah. "I miss being able to go through my day without that fear of 'am I going to be okay today?' I miss normal."

"Savannah was a happy, healthy teen before Gardasil," says attorney Nicole K. H. Maldonado. "The life she once enjoyed is now overshadowed by pain and unceasing fear that her symptoms can incapacitate her at any moment. Merck could have and should have conducted thorough safety testing for the Gardasil vaccine, but it didn't, and now Savannah and countless others are forced to pay the cost for Merck's disregard."  

About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman

Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is one of the country's leading firms litigating Gardasil cases against Merck. The firm's attorneys have decades of experience litigating against major pharmaceutical companies. With more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements across all areas of practice, the firm has earned a reputation for breaking new legal ground and holding negligent corporations accountable.

With the current controversy surrounding vaccines, Baum Hedlund attorneys wish to stress that the firm is not anti-vax. Vaccines have the potential to eradicate disease and save millions of lives. Our firm is against intentional efforts to mislead consumers about any drug or vaccine's safety and effectiveness. We have 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, or medical device. We will work tirelessly to ensure those rights are defended and victims of injustice are compensated for their injuries.

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