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Justices decline newborn blood sample case

August 1, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of an Indiana couple who wanted their child’s blood, taken when she was born, destroyed instead of being stored by the state.

The Indiana State Department of Health takes blood samples of newborns to screen for serious conditions and diseases. Prior to 2013, it would keep those samples for 23 years, but changed its policy three years ago. Now, samples are kept for three years if the parent wants the blood saved for medical research and for six months if the parent does not.

Referred to as A.B. Doe in the lawsuit, the girl and her family sued the Indiana Department of Health two years ago on her behalf and on behalf of anyone who had blood drawn and stored before the 2013 policy change. The plaintiffs alleged constitutional violations.

A Marion County court dismissed the case on the ISDH’s motion and the Court of Appeals affirmed in April. The COA held Doe’s fear of injury is speculative and does not necessitate standing.

The justices also left in place the Court of Appeals ruling that reversed a verdict and damages in favor of a man who was fired for bringing a gun to work.

Caterpillar Inc. employee William Sudlow left his handgun in sight in his car as he went to work. Another employee saw it and reported it to management, leading to Sudlow’s eventual termination for violating company policy.

The trial court ruled for Sudlow after holding there was no policy in place at that time that said he needed to keep his gun out of sight. The court awarded him $85,000 in damages. The Court of Appeals reversed in March, finding Sudlow was not entitled to relief under statute or common law.

The Supreme Court also denied taking on transfer a man’s appeal after his insanity defense was denied. Reginald Lee Robinson was at the Frankfort Library when he followed a woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter and began stabbing the girl. He also stabbed the grandmother.

Robinson pleaded insanity, but the jury found him to be guilty but mentally ill. The COA affirmed, finding sufficient evidence and that it was up to the jury to assess a testifying doctor’s credibility.

Judge Paul Mathias concurred in a separate opinion the case, writing to point out the “inadequacy of our criminal justice system when confronted with defendants who are mentally ill.” He recently made that argument again in a burglary case.

The justices denied transfer to 21 cases last week and accepted none on transfer.

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