Quel mode de preuve pour l’article 102 de la loi Kouchner ?

Si on ne présente plus la loi n° 2002-303 du 4 mars 2002 tant ses durables retentissements sur les droits des patients ont été prégnants, l’article 102 de cette loi ne jouit pas nécessairement de la même fortune.

Un rappel du texte s’impose :

« En cas de contestation relative à l’imputabilité d’une contamination par le virus de l’hépatite C antérieure à la date d’entrée en vigueur de la présente loi, le demandeur apporte des éléments qui permettent de présumer que cette contamination a pour origine une transfusion de produits sanguins labiles ou une injection de médicaments dérivés du sang. Au vu de ces éléments, il incombe à la partie défenderesse de prouver que cette transfusion ou cette injection n’est pas à l’origine de la contamination. Le juge forme sa conviction après avoir ordonné, en cas de besoin, toutes les mesures d’instruction qu’il estime utiles. Le doute profite au demandeur.

Cette disposition est applicable aux instances en cours n’ayant pas donné lieu à une décision irrévocable. »

Cet article pose donc une présomption d’imputabilité à la charge du défendeur contre lequel le demandeur a apporté des éléments permettant de penser que celui-ci a été contaminé par la virus de l’hépatite C.

C’est ainsi qu’un patient, décédé en cours d’instance, a subi une opération importante en 1983, nécessitant plusieurs transfusions. En outre, plusieurs actes invasifs (qui portent atteinte à son intégrité physique) ont été réalisés avant et après l’opération. Ayant appris sa contamination par le virus de l’hépatite C, il a assigné l’Etablissement français du sang (EFS) en indemnisation de son préjudice.

Les juges du fond ont débouté ses héritiers de cette demande au motif qu’il existait quatre hypothèses possibles de contamination et aucun moyen de connaître de la vraisemblance de l’une ou l’autre d’entre elles permettant d’établir un lien de causalité entre l’administration de produits sanguins et la contamination. La cour d’appel a considéré donc que le doute sur l’imputabilité de la contamination devait profiter au défendeur.

L’arrêt de la cour d’appel a été censuré par la Cour de cassation qui procède à une application littérale de l’article sus-évoqué. Cette disposition, dans un souci de faveur aux victimes, aménage le mode de preuve de la contamination transfusionnelle par le virus de l’hépatite C, en prévoyant que le demandeur qui apporte des éléments permettant de penser que la contamination a pour origine une transfusion, bénéficie d’une présomption d’imputabilité de sa contamination à cette transfusion. Il appartient alors au défendeur de détruire cette présomption, l’article 102 prévoyant encore que le doute profite au demandeur.

En l’espèce, le demandeur en réparation pouvait bien se prévaloir de la présomption d’imputabilité de la contamination aux transfusions dès lors qu’il avait rapporté des éléments permettant de penser qu’il était possible que les transfusions soient à l’origine de la contamination. Plus important, car c’est sur ce point que porte la censure des juges du fond par la Cour de cassation, cette présomption ne pouvait pas être combattue par la considération selon laquelle l’imputabilité de la contamination aux transfusions était incertaine. Dès lors que c’est au demandeur que profite le doute, il aurait fallu que l’EFS prouve qu’il était impossible que les transfusions soient à l’origine de la contamination pour que la présomption édictée par l’article 102 soit écartée ((Cass. Civ. 1ère, 12 juillet 2007, n° 942 FS-P+B+I.)).

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