Two nonhemophiliacs settle lawsuit over HIV

OSAKA — A court-mediated settlement was reached Mar. 18 in a suit filed against the central government and Green Cross Corp. by two nonhemophiliacs who became infected with HIV through unheated blood products.

This is the first settlement case among nonhemophiliacs who contracted HIV in the tainted-drug disaster, in which at least 1,800 hemophiliacs contracted HIV due to the widespread distribution of tainted blood products during the 1980s. Both sides signed settlement documents at the Osaka District Court.

The compromise is similar to one made about a year ago between some hemophiliac victims and the central government and Osaka-based Green Cross, under which the defendants agreed to pay 45 million yen to each of the plaintiffs, plus monthly payments of 150,000 yen to each claimant who developed AIDS later. One of the plaintiffs was treated with unheated, HIV-tainted blood products during a Caesarean operation at a local hospital. She filed her suit last year.

The other plaintiff died in 1995 — the same year he filed his suit — of AIDS complications after he received treatments with HIV-tainted blood agents to treat a liver disease in April 1986. His family has continued the lawsuit. His widow said she believes her husband’s soul in heaven is pleased with the settlement, although she has yet to find peace.

Green Cross, the leading Japanese maker of blood products, is to be absorbed into Yoshitomi Pharmaceutical Industries in October. The new company will assume responsibility for the compensation.

Matsumoto said many nonhemophiliac victims of tainted blood products have yet to take legal action because some of them may be concerned about public discrimination against people with HIV or AIDS and some may not know that they are infected with the virus.