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Attorney David Schultz and Maslon Firm Honored as Recipients of 2013 Child Advocacy Award by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
June 01, 2013

Maslon is pleased to announce that attorney David Schultz and the larger firm have been selected to receive the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) 2013 Child Advocacy Award. Each year, MNAAP's Child Advocacy Award recognizes an exemplary individual or group who has demonstrated leadership in working for changes that protect and improve the health of Minnesota's children, teens, and families.

The award recognizes David for his pro bono efforts related to litigation arising from a culmination of Minnesota's Government Data Practices Act (Minn. Stat. Section 13.01, et seq.), Genetic Privacy Act (Minn. Stat. Section 13.386), newborn screening laws (Minn. Stat. Sections 144.125, 144.1255 and 144.128), and a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision. David stepped in to represent the interests of certain parents attempting to intervene (the "Interveners") into a consolidated group of class actions asserting privacy claims against the Minnesota Department of Health ("MDH").

Since 1965, the MDH has screened Minnesota newborns for certain rare and heritable congenital disorders in the interests of child health. More than 1,000,000 blood samples have been collected since the Newborn Screening Program began. These blood samples serve invaluable purposes, including early diagnosis and treatment of congenital disorders and future family planning and testing.

Long after the implementation of the Newborn Screening Program, on August 1, 2006, the Genetic Privacy Act was enacted as part of the Government Data Practices Act, imposing certain restrictions on the government's collection, use, storage and dissemination of genetic information. On November 16, 2011, in Bearder v. State, 806 N.W.2d 766 (Minn. 2011), the Minnesota Supreme Court held that infant blood samples and corresponding test results collected pursuant to the Newborn Screening Program are subject to limitation with respect to collection, use, storage and dissemination under Minnesota's Genetic Privacy Act. 

Relying on the Bearder decision, the court authorized the MDH to destroy the infant blood samples collected after November 16, 2011, without requiring the MDH to first inform the parents or children to whom those blood samples belonged that they could consent to continued use and storage under the Genetic Privacy Act. In May 2012, the Minnesota Legislature amended the newborn screening laws to require the MDH to provide certain information to parents about the Newborn Screening Program, including the benefits of newborn screening and their right to consent to extended use and storage. Neither the Bearder decision, nor the newborn screening laws, as amended, addressed what was to become of the blood samples collected prior to November 16, 2011, and Interveners feared the class plaintiffs would eventually seek destruction of those blood samples, as well.

With the help of David, the Interveners commenced litigation in an effort to fight the destruction of the blood samples, to protect the repository of blood samples collected prior to November 16, 2011, and to protect the interests of parents who were unrepresented by the class action plaintiffs. Battling opposition by class plaintiffs for the greater part of a year, Interveners ultimately lost their motion to intervene, but achieved the greater goal of showing the court that the class plaintiffs did not adequately represent their interests, resulting in denial of class certification. Because class certification was denied, plaintiffs will be required to seek relief on an individual basis, thus making it significantly less likely that the court will order mass destruction of the repository of blood samples collected from Minnesota newborns other than plaintiffs.

David Schultz is a partner in Maslon's Litigation Practice Group and focuses his practice on trial and appellate work in healthcare/medical malpractice and medical devices, intellectual property, commercial litigation, and civil and criminal fraud. David served on the Board of the Innocence Project of Minnesota for six years. David's work on the Innocence Project reflects his long-standing passion for fairness in our justice system. He has been recognized on the Minnesota Super Lawyers® list from 2003 - 2012.

For more information, go to American Academy of Pediatrics - MN Chapter.

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