Hepatitis sufferers win fight for damages

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More than 100 people infected with the Hepatitis C virus through receiving blood transfusions, blood products or transplanted organs in the course of medical treatment today won their High Court battle for damages.

More than 100 people infected with the Hepatitis C virus through receiving blood transfusions, blood products or transplanted organs in the course of medical treatment today won their High Court battle for damages.

Mr Justice Burton ruled that 114 claimants, who have been granted anonymity, were entitled to compensation.

In six lead cases, chosen to give general guidance on damages, the judge awarded sums ranging from more than £10,000 to in excess of £210,000.

The case was the first multi-party action to go to court under the Consumer Protection Act, which became law in 1988.

Today's ruling sets an important precedent by establishing a legal link between medical liability and consumer rights.

During the lengthy hearing, Michael Brooke QC, for the claimants, told the judge that those bringing the case had been infected since March 1, 1988, and had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which affects the liver, "in a wide range of circumstances".

They launched their claims against the National Blood Authority (in England) and the Velindre NHS Trust (in Wales), who contested the action.

The defendants are the NHS bodies answerable today for the production and supply of blood and blood products over the period since March 1, 1988, by the National Blood Transfusion Service, said Mr Brooke.

Claimants included mothers who received blood transfusions or blood products immediately after childbirth.

Some people received blood transfusions or blood products in the course of undergoing surgery.

Others received blood transfusions or blood products in the course of treatment for a blood disorder. Several young children became infected while being treated for leukaemia.

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