American National Red Cross v. S.G. & A.E.: Bad Blood in the Federal Courts

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Last term the United States Supreme Court set the stage for the emerging battle between the Red Cross and the recipients of allegedly "tainted blood." In American National Red Cross v. S.G. & A.E., the Court held that federal courts have original jurisdiction over all cases in which the Red Cross is a party. Reversing the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court stated that the provision of the Red Cross charter allowing the organization "to sue and be sued in courts of law and equity, State or Federal, within the jurisdiction of the United States" conferred original federal jurisdiction and therefore authorized removal from state to federal court of any state law action the Red Cross must defend.

The Court granted certiorari to decide this question in the face of dozens of "tainted blood" cases and conflicting decisions from the courts. Over forty district courts have decided this issue with no clear result. The Eighth Circuit, the only other circuit court to decide the issue, reached a conclusion different from the First Circuit in American National Red Cross.

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