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Estate of Alvarez v. The John Hopkins University

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 8, 2018

ESTATE OF ARTURO GIRON ALVAREZ by and through Maria Ana Giron Galindo as Administrator, Plaintiffs
v.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY ET AL, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM RE: INITIAL PROCEDURAL ORDER

          Marvin J. Garbis United States District Judge

         The Court has before it Defendants' Motion for Preliminary Case Management Order [ECF No. 159] and the materials submitted relating thereto. A conference was held regarding the motion on February 5, 2018.

         The 842 Plaintiffs present claims in six Categories:

Category 1 “Direct Plaintiffs”: Guatemalans who were unknowingly, and without their consent, infected with syphilis as part of the Guatemala Experiments.
Category 2 “Spouses”: Guatemalans who did not have syphilis before he or she married or had sexual contact with a Direct Plaintiff, and who was infected with the disease through sexual contact with the Direct Plaintiff.
Category 3 “Children”: the sons and daughters of a Direct Plaintiff or the spouse of the son or daughter of a Direct Plaintiff and Spouse.
Category 4 “Descendants”: the grandchildren or great grandchildren of a Direct Plaintiff.
Category 5 “Wrongful Death Plaintiffs”: the Parent, Spouse or Child of a Deceased Plaintiff who died as a result of syphilis acquired as a result of the Guatemala Experiments.[1]
Category 6 “Estate Plaintiffs”: Estates of Guatemalans who died as a result of syphilis acquired as a result of the Guatemala Experiments. The claims of all of these “Estate Plaintiffs” are being brought by their heirs, next of kin, or personal representatives.

         All claims are based upon alleged nonconsensual medical experimentation conducted by certain individuals in the 1940s in Guatemala. There appears to be little dispute that certain individuals did perform the acts on which the claims are based. However, there are disputes about whether Plaintiffs can establish their claims against these individuals and, if so, whether they have sufficient evidence to impose legal responsibility upon the Defendants: (1) Johns Hopkins, (2) The Rockefeller Foundation, and (3) Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

         In view of the number of claims and the need for extensive discovery into events occurring more than 75 years ago, the Court finds it beneficial to conduct the litigation to lead toward efficient determination of which of Plaintiffs' claims, if any, can survive summary judgment and which Defendant(s), if any, face claims that must proceed to trial against them. The Court agrees with the parties that a case management order is necessary to reduce any unnecessary discovery and to efficiently determine which Plaintiffs and which claims can survive Defendants' summary judgment motions.[2] However, the Court will not enter the Lone Pine order as requested by Defendants.

         The parties agree that there are two separate portions of the case, each of which must now be subject to discovery. These two portions are: (1) whether there is any Plaintiff with a claim within each Category that could survive summary judgment and proceed to trial and (2) whether any Defendant may have evidence adequate to be granted summary judgment establishing non-liability.

         The Court has delegated discovery management to Magistrate Judge Gesner because the discovery necessary will be extensive and may require a significant amount of judicial management.

         Plaintiffs' ...


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