The Groth Law Firm Podcast – Episode 1

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The first podcast from Groth Law Firm features Rheanan Hoffman, a former vaccine client. After receiving a influenza vaccine, Rheanan began to have issues relating to the injection. After seeing several doctors and not having much clarity on the subject, she reached out Jerry Konkel at Groth Law Firm. This podcast will speak to her story and how Groth Law Firm was here to help her through the process.

Transcript:

Jon Groth:

Today we have a very interesting topic we’re going to talk about, and that’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. So welcome to Groth Law Firm and to our podcast where we’re discussing different topics that relate to when people are injured because of somebody else’s negligence. Usually, we’re talking about car accidents or a premises liability where somebody might be injured because it’s somebody else’s immediate fault. Where you know that a crash occurred and somebody rear-ended you, you know that that person caused the crash. In this situation, it’s a lot different, where somebody’s at fault and that somebody is a vaccine company that created the vaccine, I would say, decades upon decades before. They change the makeup of the vaccine that caused the vaccine injury on a yearly basis, but the process in how the injury occurred really can go back to probably the 1980s when they analyze that these types of vaccines can cause injuries.

Jon Groth:

That is what we’re here to talk about today, a very interesting topic. We have somebody who was a victim of a flu shot. She came to Attorney Jerry Konkel and his paralegal, Jenny Varga, and got help. We wanted to talk to you, Miss Hoffman, about this and figure out if we can explain what happened, and then hopefully, in the future, if somebody else has a vaccine injury and they have to go through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, they can learn more, and maybe because of what you went through, others will get help faster and will be able to suffer less. So welcome. How are you?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I am doing good.

Jon Groth:

Good. Good, good. Let me just make sure that we can hear you, so go a little bit closer to the mic there. All right.

Rheanan Hoffman:

I am-

Jon Groth:

You’re good. You’re doing good. We’re here in Wisconsin. I know we help people who are all across the world, I think, and Attorney Truesdale, Ryan, is here. He can talk about… I don’t know where we have other people. Is it Siberia or somewhere or…

Ryan Truesdale:

Siberia, yep.

Jon Groth :

Siberia, which is interesting, but… So we help anybody who is injured because of a vaccine. If they receive the vaccine in the United States or they receive the vaccine at a military base, then they can get compensation through this Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. So, with that, I just wanted to ask where you’re from?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Jon Groth:

Okay. And you got a vaccine, obviously. Where did you get that vaccine?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I got it at local Walgreens by my house.

Jon Groth:

Do you get your vaccine every year?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I used to.

Jon Groth:

Okay.

Rheanan Hoffman:

I’ve been a little inconsistent lately. But, for the most part, yeah, I would get my flu shot every year.

Jon Groth:

Did the flu shot… Was it one arm, or did you go every other year in a different arm?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I used to alternate. However, now, I only use my left arm because of the injury I received from the flu shot vaccine.

Jon Groth:

Okay. Interesting. All right. So, with that, going to Walgreens, who actually administered the vaccine?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I went there. They were busy. I believe it might have been a pharmacy tech. I’m not even 100% sure. He seemed very rushed, and it was the first time I ever got one at a Walgreens rather than my local doctor or whatever the case is. Yeah. Immediately, when he gave me the vaccine, it was immense pain, more than any other shot I experienced, and he just kind of brushed me off like I’ll be okay. Oh, it’s normal. I might have been overreacting or something. Yeah.

Jon Groth:

So you said to him, “My arm hurts more than normal,” and did he write anything down? Was anything done after that?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Not that I can recall, no.

Jon Groth:

Okay. Interesting. Well, it’s-

Rheanan Hoffman:

They just told me it was normal. He put the little gauze on and bandaid and sent me on my way.

Jon Groth:

And that’s a good point. I had my flu vaccine, and I can’t remember them writing anything down. I don’t even know if there was any papers to write things down on, really?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Right. No, I don’t remember seeing anything, though.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. So then with that, so with the recording, you had proof… Or what kind of proof did you have that you actually got the vaccine? Did they give you a receipt or…

Rheanan Hoffman:

I think they might have gave me a paper because I had to sign something agreeing to the vaccine. But, also, you can find those records in your Walgreens or go to any Walgreens, in my case, where I got it from, and I can get a printout, and it’ll show me that I received this vaccine on this day.

Jon Groth:

Sure. Here, let me ask you, Ryan-

Rheanan Hoffman:

Very similar with doctor’s offices, too.

Jon Groth:

So does that matter, Ryan, I guess where the vaccine was, at Walgreens or CVS or Rite Aid pharmacy or any pharmacy, for that matter, and the documentation they keep as to the vaccine?

Ryan Truesdale:

So what we’re looking for, essentially, is we need to just get some documentation that it happened. I usually call it a VAR, a Vaccine Administration Record. So if you get it at a Walgreens, for example, we send a request. The request states we want records from whatever day it was, and based upon that, they have documentation saying at least that the shot was given. So as long as we have proof vaccine was given on X day, that’s all that we need.

Jon Groth:

So you have proof that the vaccine was given on that day, and then you said you had immediate pain.

Rheanan Hoffman:

Immediate pain.

Jon Groth:

How was your night that night?

Rheanan Hoffman:

It was pretty unbearable. I couldn’t sleep for more than a couple hours. I couldn’t lift my arm probably above my shoulder level, maybe even less. Anything I tried to hold with that arm, it would fall out of my hands and drop. It continued the next couple days. It might not have been as excruciating, but it was enough that it disrupted my daily life and I knew something was wrong and it was immediately since I had that injection. So then I decided to go to urgent care.

Jon Groth:

So do you remember how soon after the shot, the flu vaccine shot, did you go to urgent care?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Within three to five days.

Jon Groth:

Okay. And what did they tell you?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I want to say three. They wouldn’t admit that it could have been from the vaccine. They weren’t saying that it wasn’t possible, but it seemed like they were trying to reroute it. I believe the main concern was, all of a sudden, a rotary cuff injury. I kept asking the lady, I remember, “I’ve never had a rotary cuff problem in my life. This is the only thing that’s happened in these last few days.” Again, the pain was immediate right after the vaccination, so… She referred me, I think, to an orthopedic, physical therapy, follow-up with primary care doctor, and I continued to do that because something was wrong with my arm.

Jon Groth:

Well, let me ask you that then. Did any of those doctors or those physical therapists or orthopedic doctor… Any of the specialists say that it was because of the vaccine?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Not one doctor. Not one doctor would actually agree or even acknowledge that it could have been a possibility that it was from the vaccination.

Jon Groth:

And that’s an interesting point because that’s something that I think we find pretty often, that doctors don’t know-

Rheanan Hoffman:

That it’s a problem.

Jon Groth:

… that, yeah, it’s a huge problem, that doctors don’t know that these vaccines, and there are a number of vaccines that are in this program, can cause these kind of injuries. So Rheanan went to the doctor within a couple days of the flu shot, and she had that immediate pain, told the doctor, and then went to doctors thereafter, but none of those doctors said it was definitely or probably because of the flu vaccine.

Rheanan Hoffman:

Not one.

Jon Groth:

So then how does that work, Ryan? How can you show, how can you prove that the flu vaccine caused this injury?

Ryan Truesdale:

So there’s a few ways that we’re able to do this, but primarily what we’re looking at is the federal government has put together what’s known as a table. This table includes specific shots, so the flu shot, for example, and certain things that must be met in order to bring a claim. So, for example, what happened here is this is what we call SIRVA, S-I-R-V-A, shoulder… Sorry, I’m going to start over there.

Rheanan Hoffman:

Shoulder injury-

Ryan Truesdale:

Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. Thank you for helping me there.

Rheanan Hoffman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ryan Truesdale:

But, yes, it’s a SIRVA injury, shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, and so when we look at these SIRVAs, we have to look at exactly what the federal government says needs to be proven in these cases. The first thing is that injury has occurred or you have problems within 48 hours. In your situation, you had gotten a shot, you said you had immediate pain. You immediately had or very shortly thereafter, at least, you had a loss of range and decrease of range of motion, so that’s pretty classic for these cases. After that, we then have to look at how long you had these issues for, and if you have it for at least six months, this falls right back into that table I talked about. So while we have doctors that say, for example, “This isn’t SIRVA,” or, “We don’t know what it is,” that doesn’t necessarily matter because our burden of proof here is simply to make these claims land within the federal table.

Jon Groth:

So with the federal table, it sounds like if you check these boxes, then the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s going to step in and assume that the flu vaccine caused these injuries. Is that right?

Ryan Truesdale:

That’s correct.

Jon Groth:

Okay. All right. Okay. Interesting. So I guess the moral of that story or something to learn from that is, in the future, if we have other people who are listening to this and saying, “Well, I had a flu vaccine but my doctors don’t believe me,” it somewhat doesn’t matter because, just like we said before we went on the air here, that a lot of doctors don’t know about this type of mechanism of injury and we’re trying to educate people. I know every doctor that I go to, my primary care doctor, if I see whomever, I always tell them about this because it’s just not widely known.

Ryan Truesdale:

Something I want to add, too, is that in some circumstances the federal government does want more than simply you’re on this table. When that happens, they want an expert involved. So this means we get a doctor involved to talk about it, and like I mentioned, a lot of doctors aren’t aware of this, and, also, some doctors have their own self-interest. They think, “Okay, a shot was given wrong at this clinic,” In the situation where if, let’s say, the federal government or the program wants there to be more, we know doctors or there are doctors involved that know about this program, they know about SIRVA, and they’re oftentimes able to help the clients if the government wants us to do that.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. Talking to Attorney Konkel, last week that there was a doctor, I think, in California, that he was talking to about a different client and a different person with a different mechanism of injury. Interesting. Okay. So let’s see.

Rheanan Hoffman:

I also think it’s important that a person goes with their gut. If you feel that something is wrong from a vaccine that you were given, even if you go to the doctor and they don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t mean that you’re not right. Just be persistent. Get a second an opinion or seek the help that you need because, yeah, doctors aren’t always going to say that it is. I partly feel that they’re somewhat trained not to get involved when it comes to that realm.

Jon Groth:

Well, and that’s a good point, that you are your own best advocate. When it comes to your health, you can’t give up, right? I mean, this is something that if you would’ve listened to the doctors and given up, you wouldn’t be where we are today to get the compensation. Let me go to that. I don’t want to ask about dollar amounts, but I want ask about what you received because we were talking before that there was a health insurance involved and other doctors’ bills that were involved. Were all your doctors’ bills paid?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Yes. At the end of everything, they were reimbursed everything through the program for whatever treatment and procedures I received.

Jon Groth:

And then you received compensation for pain and suffering, any inconvenience, lost wages, that kind of stuff. You received compensation from the program also?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Yes, I did.

Jon Groth:

And then, out of your own pocket, did you pay any attorney’s fees?

Rheanan Hoffman:

No, I never had to pay anything towards attorney fees or anything.

Jon Groth:

And attorney’s fees or costs, so if we had to request medical records, I can tell you, you didn’t receive any bills because we paid all the costs to get medical records and things like that and then the compensation program, the Vaccine Compensation Program, paid your medical bills, paid you for your pain and suffering and such. Then, separately, after that, they are paying our attorney’s fees and our costs back.

Jon Groth:

So it’s a fascinating program that has been there, I don’t know, since the 1980s that has billions, I believe, billions of dollars in this fund that compensates everybody involved. I think the way it’s funded is that a certain dollar amount, I think it’s 75 cents per vaccine, goes into this fund, and that’s been happening since the 1980s.

Rheanan Hoffman:

For years.

Jon Groth:

So you figure all the millions of people that got flu vaccines or got any vaccine, and those pennies add up to the tune of billions of dollars that’s available and needs to get to the people who are injured because of this. So it’s interesting, interesting stuff. All right. Let’s talk a little bit about the process because you had that injury, you went and saw doctors, and then you called… I think you did some research online. Is that what you were… I guess, trying to figure out what’s going on, maybe I skipped over that part. How did you find Attorney Konkel?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Well, I was continuing to experience pain, of course, and not really getting anywhere. I was truly adamant that I believed it was from the vaccine, so I started looking into lawyers, and then actually my daughter’s father recommended me to Jerry Konkel. Just immediately, when I talked to him… If anybody talks to him, they’ll know what I mean. He just has this way about him, and he helped me with the rest of the process. Again, there is certain criteria you need to meet, and they help you with all that and everything, so forth, and then I met you guys and…

Jon Groth:

Yeah. Did you have to appear in court at all for this?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I did not have to appear in court.

Jon Groth:

Did you have to do a recorded deposition, they call it, or things like that?

Rheanan Hoffman:

No, I did not.

Jon Groth:

Okay. And Attorney Konkel, Jenny, Attorney Truesdale, was there any time that you had to sit down and be involved for signing documents or going through any complex legal documents?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Nothing too significant. In the beginning, I sat down and signed whatever necessary documents to proceed, and then there might have been one or two small things that was easily able to be emailed and sent over, but no.

Jon Groth:

The point behind that question is I just want to make it clear to everybody that it’s not something that is that difficult to pursue. It’s not going to be like you’re going to have days of your life taken away from you because you have to sit down in a room and go through legal documents. You don’t have to have your days taken away from you that you have to travel to the US Court of Federal Claims. You never had to leave the state for this, right?

Rheanan Hoffman:

No, not at all.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. That’s something that people may not know, is that the jurisdiction for this is the US Court of Federal Claims. I believe that jurisdiction is in Washington, DC, Virginia area, but a lot of these cases, I think probably more than a lot, the very vast majority of them are handled telephonically or over video, so you don’t have to travel. Ryan, I know you were in a hearing a couple weeks ago. How does that work with the process when it comes to dealing with the attorneys on the other side? Are there adjusters? Is it Zoom meetings? How does that all work?

Ryan Truesdale:

So, actually, I just had one yesterday, so literally just got out of one yesterday afternoon, and they’re pretty informal. These ones have all been done by phone. I haven’t had any by Zoom. There’s no adjusters. It’s just going to be an attorney on behalf of the federal government. Then you’re going to have a special master or chief special master or an attorney working with them, and it’s really… Everyone’s kind of working together. It’s not as adversarial as, let’s say, a state claim if a car accident, for example, where you’re going to have an insurance company, you have their adjusters, you’re going to have their attorneys, and there is discovery and complex legal things going back and forth here. Here, it’s very procedural. It’s very to the T.

Ryan Truesdale:

Always, they’ll start off with an initial status conference, you talk about that, you establish times. What is the status of the client? When should we all agree that things are going to be due? Just things along that line, pretty straightforward. After that, they’ll usually ask for more records. They go back and forth. Right now, the program is kind of swamped. It is backed up because there’s been more of these claims coming out. There’s also been more people getting injections, so it makes sense, and then, of course, with COVID and the pandemic and all that, the court did get a bit more backed up because they’re short-staffed. So, usually, they’re going to ask for more time so they can look through records, things like that. But then when it came to this case, for example, we were able to discuss pretty quickly, “Vaccine caused this injury, let’s start talking dollar amounts.” What made this one a little bit more difficult was some liens were involved, but we were able to get those cleared up.

Jon Groth:

What’s a lien?

Ryan Truesdale:

A lien is, basically, you have to pay money back. So somebody pays money, so they want money for the money that they paid.

Jon Groth:

Like health insurance?

Ryan Truesdale:

Right. For health insurance, for medical treatment, things like that.

Jon Groth:

All right. Interesting. Okay. So you have the process that is in the US Court of Federal Claims, and, like you said, it’s just phone calls or video, those kind of things. Is there a judge? Are there attorneys? Who’s handling or who are you up against in this, and do you have to travel at any point to go to Virginia or to go to Washington, DC for this?

Ryan Truesdale:

Depending on what happens, there might be scenarios, but most likely not. Again, everything that I’ve done has all been by phone. You’re technically going against the Secretary of Health and Human Services. There’s a chief special master or a special master. That’s basically a federal term for a judge. They are much more guided in these things. They specialize in these fields, a lot of them. I don’t know that they have science backgrounds, but I would not be surprised if they did because they know all the terms, lab testing, procedures, all these things. They know their stuff with it. They’re not winging it at all.

Ryan Truesdale:

So you talk to them, and they’ll tell you what they need. What makes these claims tough, though, is that because it is federal it is very to the letter. You have to have exactly what they want, and procedure-wise there are going to be certain things that happen, like a rule for a report. We’re going to get that from the respondents or basically a defendant in this case or things on that nature. You have to have the status reports done at this time. You have to know the way to you address things and say things because, otherwise, these cases can get dropped if you don’t follow the specifics that the special master or chief special master wants.

Jon Groth:

Okay. Here, don’t go far away. Speaking of background, so what kind of science background do you have, Ryan?

Ryan Truesdale:

So my background is in medical sciences and chemistry. Basically, if a person ever goes to the doctor and gets a blood test, I’d be the person that would be analyzing the results, giving it to doctor, and helping with diagnoses.

Jon Groth:

That was your life before being a lawyer?

Ryan Truesdale:

Life before being a lawyer, yes.

Jon Groth:

So that’s the process. That’s how it all happens in the grand scheme of things. Let’s talk about this office and helping others in the future. So what’s your thought process, or how would you recommend people handle this? Should they go online, just call the office, or how did you reach out to us, and how did we get you some help?

Rheanan Hoffman:

I would say your first step is, if you truly believe that you were injured by a vaccine, I think it’s important to go to the doctor and get that documented. As soon as that occurs, that’s the first and foremost thing, and then I also believe that it’s very important to find an experienced lawyer like Groth Law Firm that can help you with the procedures and the process moving forward. Again, it is all about the procedures and the process and making sure that you are following up with your doctor and getting the help you need. Despite what they’re saying, if you believe something’s wrong, you continue to do it and find somebody who’s experienced. Look at reviews, look at their histories, see how many cases they’ve done. There is help out there.

Jon Groth:

Yeah. So when people think about going to court, they have a certain expectation that it’s going to be like climbing a mountain, not very easy. Hindsight’s 20/20. You can look back now and look over the years and see how it actually turned out. So from somebody looking forward and saying, “Boy, I don’t know if I can climb this legal mountain,” what can you say looking backwards?

Rheanan Hoffman:

You definitely can with the help of an experienced lawyer on your side. They’re going to do all that leg work for you. What makes this program so unique with the vaccine injury is the fact that it’s a separate program and it already has this separate money aside. So when you get paid at the end, a personal injury claim, you’re getting attorney’s fees and all these deductions taken out of your total settlement. Well, if you’re awarded 125,000, let’s say, through this program, you’re going to get 125,000, and then they’re still going to pay all the lawyer costs and all your medical bills on top of that. So I think that’s important to know on how unique it is because it definitely does make a difference.

Jon Groth:

So it’s no risk to you?

Rheanan Hoffman:

No, none at all. I never had to pay anything up front. Just a matter of really seeking help and getting the help you need and somebody who knows how to do it.

Jon Groth:

Yeah.

Rheanan Hoffman:

And then they handle it all for you.

Jon Groth:

Awesome. All right. Boy, I don’t think I have any questions, so thank you. Those are kind words. I appreciate everything that you said, and-

Rheanan Hoffman:

You’re welcome.

Jon Groth:

… I’m glad that Attorney Konkel and Attorney Truesdale and Jenny Varga, the paralegal on the case, were able to, well, get you the result that hopefully was adequate. It’s never going to be good enough because what I always say is that what’s good enough is going back in time and not having this injury-

Rheanan Hoffman:

Not having it.

Jon Groth :

… but if there’s a way to do it, at least in this process, there’s a way that you can get compensation so, hopefully, you can get what you need to make life a little bit easier going forward. All right. Thank you very much for your time. I think that’s all we have. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?

Ryan Truesdale:

I think we’re good.

Jon Groth:

I have a question. What’s your favorite song?

Rheanan Hoffman:

Rheanan by Fleetwood Mac.

Jon Groth:

Look at that. Look at that.

Rheanan Hoffman:

That’s my name.

Ryan Truesdale:

That’s what you said yesterday.

Jon Groth:

Oh, that’s awesome.

Ryan Truesdale:

Favorite song.

Jon Groth:

Fantastic. I was hoping she was going to say that. All right. That’s it. Thank you for listening. This is the Groth Law Firm Podcast, and we will catch you next time. Thanks.

Rheanan Hoffman:

Thanks.

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