Below is a reposted article from bizjournal.com and is by Sarah Gantz
Johns Hopkins will vigorously oppose a $1 billion lawsuit filed Wednesday by more than 700 family members and research subjects who were infected by sexually transmitted diseases during 1940s and 1950s government experiments in Guatemala.
The lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court alleges that Hopkins, as a leading authority on venereal disease at the time, played a key role in a government study of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala.
The suit, filed by Baltimore law firm Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC on behalf of 774 plaintiffs, names Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Health System. It also names the Rockefeller Foundation and Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co., a New York pharmaceutical company.
Hopkins officials reject the suit’s claims and say the institution did not conduct or pay for the government study. Hopkins doctors served on a government committee that oversaw funding for the study, officials said. Robert Mathias, a lawyer with DLA Piper and Hopkins’ lead counsel, described the suit as baseless and said he will likely move to dismiss the case on statute of limitations.
“The study they’re complaining about took place almost 70 years ago,” Mathias said. “The doctors they name are all deceased.”
Paul D. Bekman, who is among the lawyers representing the case’s plaintiffs, says he can prove Hopkins’ involvement.
“We can back up every single thing we have said in the complaint with facts and documents,” Bekman said. “Hopkins and Rockefeller were involved in this up to their eyebrows.”
Details of the study became public during a 2011 federal bioethics review. A prior class action lawsuit against the U.S. government was dismissed in 2012.
A previous version of this story incorrectly described the lawsuit against Johns Hopkins as a class action suit. An earlier lawsuit filed by Guatemalan victims and their families against the U.S. government was a class action.
Marc Primo Pulisci has been representing employees and consumers who have had their rights violated for over 10 years