Judge allows $1 billion 'Guatemala Experiment' suit against Johns Hopkins


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, filed on behalf on 842 victims and their family members, initially was dismissed last year, but U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis offered their attorneys instructions to refile — and on Wednesday denied part of a motion to dismiss the refiled suit.

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.”

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