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Court Upholds Right of Human Experiment Victims in Guatemala to Seek Justice v Johns Hopkins U., Rockefeller Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb

The court agrees the experiments are illegal and unethical. No one wants to pay.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis upholds the right of the people to seek access to justice through the courts in Giron Alvarez v Johns Hopkins University (Aug. 30, 2017).

Judge Garbis ruled previously the human experiments against Guatemalan people are illegal, in violation of customary international law prohibiting medical experiments on human subjects without consent under Abdullahi v. Pfizer, Inc., 562 F.3d 163, 187 (2d Cir. 2009).

A federal judge in Baltimore has allowed a $1 billion lawsuit to move forward against the Johns Hopkins University and others involved in a 1940s government experiment that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis and other venereal diseases.

The lawsuit [is] filed on behalf on 842 victims and their family members [before] U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis.

After requiring the plaintiffs’ attorneys to outline more specifically how and when the victims were infected, the judge allowed claims by direct victims, spouses, children, grandchildren, wrongful death and estate plaintiffs to stand. He dismissed part of the suit seeking damages under Guatemalan law.

Ryan Perlin, of Bekman, Marder and Adkins, the Baltimore-based firm representing the victims, called the decision “a significant win for our clients.”

“This allows those claims to proceed and allow those people to get their day in court,” he said.The U.S. government deliberately infected experiment subjects with syphilis, gonorrhea and chancroid to study ways to treat sexually transmitted diseases and prevent them from spreading in the 1940s. The “Guatemala Experiment” . . . was secret until a historian discovered evidence of it in 2010, at which point the United States formally apologized.

The suit seeks to hold Hopkins responsible because its doctors held key roles on the panels that reviewed and approved federal spending for the experiments. It alleges five senior Hopkins doctors were involved. . . .

“We feel profound sympathy for the individuals and families impacted, and reiterate that this 1940’s study in Guatemala was funded and conducted by the U.S. Government, not by Johns Hopkins,” Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

The lawsuit also names the nonprofit Rockefeller Foundation and drug maker Giron Aalvarez v Johns Hopkins 20170830 as defendants. Attorneys representing the foundation and the New York-based company did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. . . .

The lawsuit claims three employees and board members, including a then-U.S. surgeon general, were involved in the experiments. . . .

One [victim] was injected while in prison with what he was told were “vitamins,” the plaintiffs wrote. Another, as a 7-year-old, was told to line up at school, where he and other students were injected with something “to protect the children against diseases,” the suit said.

Others died from the disease, and many unknowingly infected their spouses or children with it. Some didn’t realize they’d been part of an experiment until . . . 2012, the suit says. . . .

Read the complete story in the Baltimore Sun . . .

The City Project and UC Irvine Law School International Human Rights Clinic seeks justice for Guatemalan people against the US for crimes against humanity representing the Archdiocese of Guatemala Human Rights Office before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights . . .