(BALTIMORE) More than 700 people have filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Hospital and University.
The lawsuit alleges that Hopkins was the driving force behind human experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s.
In those experiments, the lawsuit alleges, people were deceived and intentionally exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The lawsuit alleges that experiments targeted school children, orphans, psychiatric hospital patients, prison inmates and military conscripts.
The suit was filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
In a statement from Johns Hopkins Hospital, they said the U.S. government, not Hopkins was behind what happened, saying: “Johns Hopkins expresses profound sympathy for individuals and families impacted by the deplorable 1940s syphilis study conducted by the U.S. government in Guatemala. This was not a Johns Hopkins study. Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct or conduct the study in Guatemala. No nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the U.S. government.
“The plaintiffs’ essential claim in this case is that prominent Johns Hopkins faculty members’ participation on a government committee that reviewed funding applications was tantamount to conducting the research itself and that therefore Johns Hopkins should be held liable. Neither assertion is true.”
The lawsuit names The Rockefeller Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Health System Corp.
A representative of The Rockefeller Foundation released a statement, saying: “The research conducted in Guatemala was morally repugnant and the Rockefeller Foundation wholeheartedly agrees with U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that the United States government owes reparations to the victims and their families for the damage it caused. The Rockefeller Foundation did not design, fund, or manage any of these experiments, and had absolutely no knowledge of them. That’s why the U.S. Presidential Commission, put in place to investigate the matter, placed full responsibility with the U.S. Public Health Service without ever mentioning the Rockefeller Foundation. This lawsuit against the Rockefeller Foundation is without merit and we will oppose it vigorously in court.”