Blood Justice: Courts, Conflict, and Compensation in Japan, France, and the US
Eric A. Feldman
University of Pennsylvania Law School
In the mid-1980s, many blood transfusion recipients and close to half of Japanese, American, and French hemophiliacs realized that they had been infected with HIV-contaminated blood. This paper argues that the legal conflicts over HIV and blood in those three nations defy conventional comparative claims about courts, conflict and compensation. It first describes the similar policy responses of France, Japan, and the US as public health officials came to realize that HIV threatened the safety of the blood supply. It then focuses on what happened when infected individuals began to demand redress. The paper argues that the mobilization around law by plaintiffs, the centrality of the courts in handling conflicts over HIV and blood, and bold, innovative judicial responses were not distinctive characteristics of the American conflict. Instead, law and courts in all three nations were central players in the battles over blood. Most strikingly, in comparison to the US, courts in France and Japan have been significantly more responsive to plaintiffs' claims. When one looks beyond the courts to legal and legislative action more broadly, the US has been the least accepting of the plethora of demands for recompense.
JEL Classification: K32
Date posted: June 12, 2000
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