French Appeals Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Doctors, Health Officials in HIV-Contaminated Blood Bank Scandal
A French appellate court yesterday dismissed a case filed against 30 people who had been implicated in an HIV-contaminated blood bank scandal that "shook" the nation's public health system more than 10 years ago, AP/Wall Street Journal Europe reports. The lawsuit targeted doctors and officials with the Health Ministry for failing to remove blood products that contained HIV from the nation's blood supply. More than 4,000 people, mostly hemophiliacs, were infected with HIV before the blood products were removed from the health system, and hundreds of these people have since died of AIDS-related causes (AP/Wall Street Journal Europe, 7/5). The court did not publicly explain its reasoning for dismissing the case, and prosecutors have five days to decide whether to appeal the ruling ( Salt Lake Tribune, 7/5). French Justice Minister Dominique Perben said he would work with prosecutors to weigh their options. "The court must make an effort to explain its decisions, to make itself understood, and [to] allow the public to read its decisions," he said (Agence France-Presse, 7/5). Francois Honnorat, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case, said that the decision "means we can throw all public health cases ... in the garbage can" (AP/Wall Street Journal Europe, 7/5). In 1999, France's former prime minister and an ex-cabinet member were acquitted in the same case, and a former health minister was found guilty but received no sentence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/10/99).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.