Parents Sue State to Protect Genetic Info


     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Minnesota collects DNA samples from newborn children, then illegally keeps the genetic information and shares it with third parties without informed consent of the parents, parents say in a class action.
     Lead plaintiffs Nathan and Katrina Anderson sued the state, the Minnesota Department of Health, and its commissioner, in Hennepin County Court.
     They claim that state violated its own Genetic Privacy Act by collecting, storing and disseminating their children's genetic information without informed consent.
     The Genetic Privacy Act took effect Aug. 1, 2006.
     "Under Minnesota's 'Newborn Screening' program, within five days of each minor plaintiff's birth ... defendants removed blood from each minor plaintiff, which contains the genetic information of the minor plaintiff," the complaint states.
     "Defendants similarly collect a sample of genetic information from all babies born in Minnesota.
     "Blood from the minor plaintiffs contains genetic information from the minor plaintiff and its biological parents."
     The state tests the infants' blood for "disorders," according to the complaint.
     However, "After testing the minor plaintiffs' blood for disorders, defendants did not destroy the blood sample, but instead stored or retained the blood sample," the complaint states. The parents say the state did this without their informed consent, and that the state then "disseminated the genetic information, and conducted tests and research on the genetic information belonging to numerous other persons in Minnesota," also without consent.
     The parents say that state's Genetic Privacy Act was enacted to protect the "genetic privacy and the DNA property rights of all Minnesotans, including newborns."
     "The Genetic Privacy Act states that genetic information may be used only for the purposes for which an individual has given written and informed consent, may be stored only for the period of time that the individual has given written informed consent, and may not be disseminated without an individual's written informed consent," according to the complaint.
     It adds: "The MNDOH and the State, through and under the direction of the Commissioner shared and disseminated the plaintiffs' genetic information with third-parties without obtaining plaintiffs' informed written consent."
     They seek damages and punitive damages. They are represented by Jeffrey Klobucar with Foley & Mansfield.