July 27, 2010 — Taiwanese hemophiliacs infected by HIV-contaminated medications have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to allow their claims to proceed in California. Their suits contend that California-based defendants illegally used paid plasma donors at high risk for transmitting blood-borne diseases (i.v. drug users, prisoners, and promiscuous urban gay males) to make injected anti-hemophilia medications. Those medications provided hemophiliacs with proteins needed to stop their uncontrolled bleeding episodes. In the absence of a viral deactivation process, when hemophiliacs infused such medications, they were exposed to whatever diseases those risky donors carried, which eventually included HIV. Once a viral deactivation treatment (heating) was implemented, the defendants continued selling their inventories of HIV-contaminated medications to markets that had not yet developed AIDS “hysteria”, e.g. Taiwan.
A 1985 Far East Marketing Plan obtained from Defendant Bayer outlined their strategy: “If we see the need for a heat-treated product in the Far East, we will react to the demand swiftly. Otherwise, we will try to continue to dominate the markets with low-cost standard [anti-hemophilia medications].” Taiwanese hemophiliacs were unaware of this strategy and the defendants’ risky manufacturing practices until 2003 when the New York Times published an article summarizing internal documents filed into evidence in US hemophiliacs’ cases. Although the Taiwanese hemophiliacs’ contentions were amply documented, the Seventh Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of their case on grounds that the evidence they had presented showing fraudulent concealment did not stop the expiration of statutes of limitations and that the claims were inconveniently filed in California instead of Taiwan.
The Taiwanese hemophiliacs today filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court requesting relief from decisions dismissing their tort and contract causes of action. They are challenging lower courts’ rulings which they believe conflict with federal and state law.
Ronald L.M. Goldman, Michael L. Baum and Frances M. Phares of the California law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, P.C. filed the writ petition on behalf of the plaintiffs.