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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Supreme Court Says Red Cross Can Move AIDS Suits to Federal Court
Henderson, Greg
June 19, 1992
United Press International (06/19/92)

Washington--The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the American Red Cross has the immediate option to move a lawsuit by people who contracted HIV via contaminated blood transfusions from state to federal court. A 5-4 vote determined that a congressional charter gives the Red Cross the right to face any lawsuit in federal court, where it may be more likely to prevail. The tests to screen HIV infected blood from donors were only available to the Red Cross since 1985. Because the Red Cross is one of the nation's largest suppliers of blood to hospitals, it has experienced more than 40 lawsuits nationwide by people who were infected with HIV via tainted blood transfusions. The Centers for Disease Control reported 4,205 transfusion-related AIDS cases as of Sept. 30 1991--the majority of the cases are believed to have transpired from transfusions before 1985. Among the more than 40 similar cases across the country, about half of the district courts deciding the pretrial issues permitted the cases to be contended in state court, while the other half felt that the Red Cross has the right to demand a trial in federal court. Although the distinction seems trivial, the Red Cross believes that federal judges are better qualified than state judges to deal with such cases.