The Supreme Court on Friday overturned a high court ruling that rejected a damages claim by a 46-year-old man who suffered brain damage as a result of an inoculation required by the state, and remanded the case to the Tokyo High Court.
The unidentified man was the only plaintiff whose damages claim was rejected by the high court in a collective suit filed against the state under the State Tort Liability Law by people who suffered health problems due to inoculations against diseases such as smallpox.
The high court rejected the claim by the man and his parents, ruling that the plaintiffs filed the suit after the 20-year window for such legal action had passed. In Friday’s top court ruling, Judge Hiroshi Fukuda ruled that it is unjust to deny a damages claim by someone who has suffered so seriously simply because the filing period had expired.
The judge thus ruled that the plaintiff still has the right to claim damages. Plaintiffs in a similar collective damages suit pending at the Osaka High Court are waging the same battle, and Friday’s ruling is expected to influence that case.
The top court, however, rejected the damages claim by the man’s parents, ruling that they have no special circumstances under which to claim exemption from the filing period.
In the Tokyo collective damages suit, a total of 62 families sued the state for about 6.3 billion yen. The man in Friday’s case filed, together with his parents, a damages suit in December 1974 over brain damage caused by an inoculation against smallpox in October 1952, five months after his birth.
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