Get out the tissues

From a back-issue of the ABC Law Report.

A patient at UCLA’s School of Medicine named John Moore, went in and was diagnosed as having hairy cell leukaemia. His treatment was to have the spleen removed, but before the doctors did that, they did blood tests and found he had a very important, useful, potentially marketable chemical in his body. And he was not told that. And the doctors started taking blood and other tissue, and created a patented cell line out of it, and entering into deals with a biotech company, to get money and stock for those parts of John Moore. And in a truly tragic case, for the next seven years, they made him keep flying down to UCLA to have more tissue taken, and he thought he was sick, he was allowed to think he was sick, and that he needed that, when they actually were doing many of these things for their own benefit. He’d been cured but they were selling off tissue and cell lines from him, and so he went through all sorts of things that one doesn’t normally have when you have hairy cell leukaemia. For example, they took sperm from him, they took bone marrow, and they took other tissue.

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Andrew Reynolds
16 years ago

Looks like a clear case of assault to me.

Dave Bath
16 years ago

Good old LegalEagle at LegalSoapbox posted more on the Moore v Regents of the University of California (1990) case a while back: "Property and the Body" 2007-07-10.

Moore sued them, saying that he had not consented to the use of his cells in this way. One of Moores claims was that the spleen cells were his property, and that by using them without his consent, the University had committed the tort of conversion. They had been detached from him, and therefore were separate from him – did this mean they could be owned by him, as they were derived from him? A majority of the Supreme Court of California said that they were not Moores property. However, the University was found to have breached its fiduciary duty towards Moore (namely its duty not to profit at his expense without obtaining his consent).