The parents of a 7-year-old boy who died after contracting West Nile virus from a transfusion of tainted blood asked the Florida Supreme Court to restore an $8 million jury verdict against a blood bank.
The Court have been asked to decide whether all blood banks are covered by Florida’s medical malpractice statutes, which include special procedures and limits on damages and attorney fees, rather than general negligence laws.
The American Red Cross and two national blood bank associations are participating in the case through a written “friend-of-the-court” argument that sided with the defendant, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers Inc.
The 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the negligence verdict in the death of the boy. It ruled the boy’s estate should have filed a notice to LifeSouth before suing as required for a medical malpractice claim.
The parents’ lawyer, argued the appellate ruling violates his clients’ right of access to the courts, saying it would be impossible to comply with the malpractice requirements. That is because they could not obtain records on the donor because they needed to file a preliminary notice because of patient confidentiality laws.
The Florida Supreme Court in 1992 ruled blood banks are not covered by malpractice laws because they do not provide treatment or care to blood recipients.
The Legislature, though, amended the law to include blood banks in its definition of health care providers, argued LifeSouth’s lawyer.
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