Most of the time, blood transfusions are safe. Over the years, however, tragedies connected to tainted blood and blood products have ripped through communities on an international scale. Blood contaminated with hepatitis C, HIV, and hepatitis B has sickened and killed recipients, causing financial, political, and legal repercussions for those found responsible.
This Note seeks to explore one such tragedy: the Arkansas Prison Plasma Scandal. Occurring between 1982 and 1994 at the Cummins Prison in Grady, Arkansas, the scandal stemmed from the operation of a blood product center in which prisoners “bled” in exchange for $7 to $10 per donation. It is alleged that tainted blood products from the prison were distributed internationally, and that thousands of people became infected with hepatitis C as a result.
This Note will address: (1) the nature of the blood business in America, (2) the events at the Cummins prison plasma center and the ensuing scandal, (3) the response of the Canadian and British legal systems and governments to the tainted blood victims, and (4) the likely outcome of a negligence claim against the allegedly responsible parties if the victims had successfully filed suit.
With this analysis, this Note will show that even if all the alleged facts about the circumstances at the prison plasma center are true, injured parties suing in the United States would not be able to prevail in a negligence claim because of the impossibility of proving causation in American blood product litigation.