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Lawsuit Alleges Gardasil Caused CERVICAL CANCER Wrongful Death

Haley Ferguson

Attorneys from Wisner Baum have filed another wrongful death lawsuit in the federal Gardasil MDL (multidistrict litigation) alleging the HPV vaccine caused a young woman’s terminal cervical cancer. This is the fourth lawsuit filed in the MDL to claim Gardasil caused cervical cancer, and there are two additional cervical cancer claims pending in Vaccine Court.

Attorneys Bijan Esfandiari, Michael L. Baum, and Monique Alarcon filed the complaint on behalf of Erin Ferguson, whose daughter Haley passed away at age 22 after a battle with cervical cancer. The case against New Jersey-based Merck & Co., Inc. joins more than 180 other lawsuits consolidated in the Gardasil MDL before U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell in North Carolina.

The lawsuit includes the following causes of action:

  • Negligence
  • Strict Liability (Failure to Warn)
  • Strict Liability (Manufacturing Defect)
  • Breach of Warranty
  • Fraud
  • Wrongful Death

The lawsuit alleges that Merck’s conduct, including its false promotion of Gardasil as a cancer prevention vaccine and its failure to issue appropriate warnings concerning the vaccine’s serious risks, created a substantial risk of significant harm to patients injected with Gardasil and, therefore, warrants an award of punitive damages.

“In its marketing, Merck scared parents, including the Fergusons, into believing that by getting the Gardasil vaccine their children would be protected from getting cancer,” says attorney Bijan Esfandiari. “But Merck’s studies were not designed to determine whether Gardasil prevents cervical cancer, they only tested whether it prevented certain lesions caused by HPV, the vast majority of which disappear on their own. As the studies we identify in Haley’s complaint show, Gardasil may actually increase the risk of getting cervical cancer. For the large percentage of people previously exposed to HPV, studies have shown an up to 44.6% increased risk of developing advanced pre-cancer cells or worse within a few years of receiving the vaccine. Merck itself admits Gardasil has not been evaluated for its potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity. Haley’s case is tragic and heartbreaking. We will do everything in our power to hold Merck accountable for its overly enthusiastic marketing and its failure to warn of Gardasil’s risks. ”

Contrary to Merck’s marketing, the lawsuit alleges Gardasil may actually increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. Research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the suppression of the HPV strains targeted by Gardasil (there are more than 200 strains of HPV and Gardasil only targets up to nine of them) may actually open an ecological niche for replacement by more virulent strains, thus increasing the risk of cervical cancer.

Allegations in Gardasil Wrongful Death Case

Haley Ferguson was 13 when she received her first of three Gardasil injections. After the shots, she began experiencing abdominal pain, cramping, nausea and vomiting, abnormal bleeding, and heavy periods.

At 18, Haley was diagnosed with metastatic cervical cancer/adenocarcinoma of the cervix, requiring salpingectomy and bilateral ovarian transposition surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Her cervical cancer progressed extensively, spreading to her liver, skin, uterus, and eventually lymph node metastases.

After each new tumor in a new organ, Haley was treated with a new form of chemotherapy or combination of chemotherapies, and new rounds of stronger radiation. She was in excruciating pain. She lost her hair. Her skin became so irritated that, when she was touched, she would cry out in pain. She required oxycodone and morphine for pain.

Haley died as a result of metastatic cervical cancer/adenocarcinoma on May 22, 2023. Her mother, Erin Ferguson, contends that Haley’s Gardasil injections caused her daughter to develop cervical cancer.

One of the reasons Erin decided to pursue legal action is to inform others about her daughter’s story. Before she passed away, Haley wrote as a part of her petition in Vaccine Court:

Back in 2014 I was a normal teenage girl. I went to school, did my homework, hung out with my friends, and ran around doing fun things like normal kids. I did my yearly physical as recommended and got all vaccines that were offered for prevention and concern for my future. I graduated high school and had a great scholarship and plan for my life.

I wanted to become a nurse and take care of people. I always had great nurses and doctors each time I saw anyone. Those are the people that inspired me to become a nurse and help others like they helped me. Even after getting cancer, I still wanted to go to school to be an oncology nurse and help take care of other cancer patients. I loved all my nurses and made so many great friends along the way. After I got my Gardasil vaccine in 2014 I feel like things started falling apart with my health. I was going to the doctor more often for little issues here and there. My thyroid started acting up at a young age. I had to have my gallbladder removed when I was 16 years old. I had abnormally heavy periods after getting the vaccine. No one ever suggested checking a pap smear either because I was so young and not sexually active. They treated the symptoms and let me go. In mid to end of September 2019, I started getting sick even more and having a lot of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. I was in my first semester of college when this started. I came home early so my mom could take me to urgent care. They checked a few things and because of my symptoms sent me over to the hospital. The hospital got me in and they did labs, CT, and asked a bunch of questions. Once they got the CT results back they came in and said that they would like to do a vaginal exam because there was something seen on the CT scan. We went ahead and let them do their exam, it was super painful, and they told us that they saw a mass on the cervix. My mom immediately called my primary care and got us the next day and from there we went to a GYN for my first pap smear. The pap smear came back positive for cervical cancer, and we were in to see the oncologist shortly after that. I have done two different types of radiation and multiple chemotherapies and this cancer continues to spread throughout my body. It started in the cervix and then spread to the liver, pelvic lymph nodes, outer skin of the vagina, fatty tissue in the stomach, and the lungs. I have been anemic and needed 20+ blood transfusions over the last few years. I have been in and out of the hospital many times since this all started. I’ve had blood clots in my lungs, cellulitis, and lost my hair 3 times from the chemotherapy.

What’s happening now…In October 2022 I was told that we were out of options for treatments, we searched all over to see if anyone anywhere else had something. At that time in October we were told I had about 2 years to live and to make the most of it with my family. January 2023 comes and 2 days after my birthday was my first of 3 ICU/oncology floor trips for sepsis. I was in the ICU twice unconscious and came back from the brink of death both times, from going into septic shock from an unknown infection caused by the cancer. My mom has gotten good at noticing the symptoms before it happens and got me to the hospital before it got bad this last time and kept me from being in the ICU. I was sent home with hospice at my second hospital stay and told on my third trip I was given 4-6 weeks left to live.

I am 22 years old and supposed to be wild and free, living life and experiencing what my friends are right now. Not sitting at home in pain, sad and depressed that I am going to die soon. I wonder every day if everything would be different if I would not have gotten this vaccine. If I would be a normal young adult starting my life in the real world and not feeling horrible every day of my life because I am in so much pain from the cancer spreading. I do not want to die at such a young age and hope that I can help get the word out there that this vaccine is not for everyone and my life could have been so different had we known.

HPV Vaccine Attorneys

Gardasil attorneys at Wisner Baum represent hundreds of people from across the country who experienced significant side effects after the HPV vaccine. Attorney Bijan Esfandiari was selected as co-lead trial counsel in the Gardasil MDL, where over 180 cases are pending. These lawsuits allege Gardasil caused plaintiffs to develop postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), premature ovarian failure (POF), and numerous other autoimmune conditions.

While the MDL progresses, attorneys say the first Gardasil trial will likely take place in 2025.

If you or someone in your family experienced harmful side effects after taking Gardasil, you are not alone. We are here to help. Contact Wisner Baum for more information.


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