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Ref Exposed to HIV Can Sue Athletic Commission

(CN) - The California State Athletic Commission is liable for exposing a boxing referee to the blood of an HIV-positive boxer, a California appeals court ruled.

Ray Corona Sr. refereed a boxing match in June 2005. Six days later, he received a letter from the commission stating, "You may have been unwittingly been exposed to a transmittable blood-borne disease ... the Commission strongly urges you to be tested." The letter added, "You should also think about what might happen if, before you receive your test results, you engage in activities in which you might transmit one of those diseases to someone else."

One of the fighters had tested positive for HIV, and blood had spilled in the fight.

Corona and his wife sued the state, the commission and the California Office of Human Affairs for negligence and violation of a mandatory duty.

The trial court ruled for the state, citing immunity because the case involves the issuance of a license.

But the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside overturned the decision, ruling that the state is not entitled to immunity.

"The Commission has no discretion to issue a boxing license or authorize a boxer to participate in a match unless the boxer submits a negative HIV test. ... For this reason, the state is not entitled to immunity," Justice Ramirez wrote.

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