United States District Court, D. Maryland
P. GESNER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending are defendants' Motion for Discovery and
Sanctions (“Motion”) (ECF No. 262),
defendants' Supplemental Brief in Support of Request for
Discovery and Motion for Sanctions (“Supplemental
Brief”) (ECF No. 271), plaintiffs' counsel's
Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for
Discovery and Sanctions (“Opposition”) (ECF No.
300), plaintiffs' counsel's Supplement to
Plaintiffs' Counsel's Opposition to Defendants'
Motion for Discovery and Sanctions (“Supplemental
Opposition”) (ECF No. 326) and defendants' Reply
Brief in Support of Request for Discovery and Motion for
Sanctions (“Reply”) (ECF No. 332). In their
Motion, defendants allege that plaintiffs' counsel have
abused the litigation process and argue that plaintiffs'
claims are “based on manufactured evidence, false sworn
statements, and unsupportable allegations that even a cursory
investigation would have shown.” (ECF No. 262 at 1).
Defendants ask the court to (1) “permit defendants to
pursue targeted discovery to ensure that the full scope of
the abuses are uncovered and to allow defendants to use that
discovery in support of an anticipated future motion under
Rule 11” and (2) “require plaintiffs' counsel
to reimburse defendants for the fees and expenses incurred as
a result of their improper litigation conduct.” (ECF
No. 262 at 1-2). The issues have been fully briefed, and no
hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6. For the reasons stated
below, defendants' Motion (ECF No. 262) is denied.
allege that “recent discovery has revealed that
plaintiffs' claims are based on manufactured evidence,
false sworn statements, and unsupportable allegations that
even a cursory investigation would have shown were
unfounded.” (ECF No. 262-1 at 7). Defendants ask the
court to allow defendants to “conduct targeted
discovery to determine the full extent of plaintiffs'
litigation abuses.” (Id. at 35). Specifically,
defendants state that they anticipate filing a motion for
sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11
asking for dismissal of all claims. (Id.) Prior to
filing this motion, however, defendants ask permission to
pursue targeted discovery “[t]o ensure that the [c]ourt
has the information it needs to properly evaluate that
motion, and to ensure that the full extent of plaintiffs'
counsel's abuses are properly evaluated.”
(Id.) Defendants also request that plaintiffs'
counsel “be ordered to reimburse defendants for the
substantial costs needlessly incurred as a result of the bad
faith abuses described herein.” (Id. at 10).
In response, plaintiffs' counsel argue that “there
has been no ‘bad faith' on the part of
[p]laintiffs' counsel justifying either the award of
money sanctions, or the time-consuming, resource-draining
exercise of discovery and rummaging through counsel's
privileged files.” (ECF No. 300 at 11). Although
defendants raise many allegations against plaintiffs'
counsel, (ECF No. 262 at 5-27), the court will address only
those allegations which are most relevant to the instant
state that depositions of Selected Plaintiffs and their
family members, taken in Guatemala, “revealed that many
of the factual allegations of the [Third Amended Complaint
(“TAC”)] are false and many of the plaintiffs
likely have no connection to the Guatemala
Experiments.” (ECF No. 262-1 at 14-15). Defendants
further state that testimony from these depositions suggested
that “plaintiffs' counsel did not undertake
reasonable efforts to ensure that only proper plaintiffs were
named in their complaint.” (Id. at 16).
Defendants first raise concerns about the process by which
plaintiffs were recruited for the lawsuit. (Id. at
15). Defendants note that “[d]eponents told a
consistent story about how they were recruited, ” that
they met plaintiffs' counsel's investigator, Roberto
Paiz (along with his wife, Clara), “between 2012 and
2013 when he came to town looking for people whose names
appeared on a list he held” and that Mr. and Mrs. Paiz
“organized local ‘information sessions' to
recruit plaintiffs.” (Id.) While defendants
state that “[i]t appears likely that at least one list
Mr. Paiz relied on was a list of names within a 2011 report
issued as part of the Guatemala-led investigation into the
Guatemala Experiments” (the “Archival
Report”), defendants also note that “[t]he
majority of deponents did not know what the list was or why
their or their family members' names would have been
included.” (Id. at 17). Accordingly,
defendants argue that “[f]urther discovery is warranted
to determine if there is any factual basis for linking the
persons named as plaintiffs to the Guatemala Experiments
other than similarities to a name in the Archival Report and
what Mr. Paiz told these plaintiffs about their loved
one's experiences.” (Id. at 18).
defendants raise concerns about the evidence used to identify
plaintiffs alleged in the TAC to have been exposed to
syphilis at a school in Puerto de San Jose as part of the
Guatemala Experiments. (Id.) Defendants state that
plaintiffs' counsel produced “certifications”
created by Norma Alicia Lorenzo Lopez, the school's
former director, purporting to bear the official letterhead
and seal of the school and stating that certain plaintiffs
attended the school during the relevant time period.
(Id. at 19). During Ms. Lopez's deposition,
however, defendants state that Ms. Lopez testified that no
written records of students from this time period exist, and
that she did not have the legal authority to issue such
certifications. (Id. at 19-20). Defendants also
allege that “Ms. Lopez testified that she had no
personal basis to make the statements in her
certifications.” (Id. at 20). Instead,
defendants argue, she merely introduced Mr. and Mrs. Paiz to
members of the community, and Mr. and Mrs. Paiz then
accumulated information about the former students.
(Id.) Accordingly, defendants argue, Ms. Lopez
“relied exclusively on ‘sworn statements'
provided to her by the plaintiffs and generated by Ms.
Paiz” when issuing the certifications. (Id.)
Defendants note, however, that “[e]ven if these sworn
statements were reliable, she could not have reviewed each of
them in person before issuing the certification, ”
especially in light of the fact that “one of the
individuals had already died at the time he supposedly
delivered his sworn statement to her in person.”
(Id. at 21). Defendants now seek discovery into the
files of plaintiffs' counsel and their agents “to
ascertain the provenance of the so-called ‘sworn
statements' that formed the sole basis for Ms.
Lopez's ‘certifications, '” as well as
“discovery into the true provenance of these misleading
‘certifications,' and how and why plaintiffs'
counsel named as plaintiffs in this lawsuit individuals for
whom there appears to be no documentary evidence indicating
they attended the school during the relevant time period, let
alone that they were intentionally exposed to
also raise concerns about the methods used by plaintiffs'
counsel to prepare plaintiffs' interrogatory answers.
Defendants note that, prior to their depositions in
Guatemala, deponents provided interrogatory answers in
English that included an affirmation that the contents were
true and correct to the best of the individual's
knowledge, information, and belief. (Id. at 21-22).
During the depositions, however, defendants state that
“plaintiffs repeatedly testified that they signed
interrogatory answers without understanding the
contents.” (Id. at 22). Defendants also state
that “[t]he interrogatory answers are riddled with
demonstrably false statements.” (Id.)
Defendants argue that “[h]aving plaintiffs sign answers
to interrogatories that they could not understand, which
contain false information, constitutes bad-faith abuse of the
judicial process.” (Id. at 23). Accordingly,
defendants request discovery of “[p]laintiffs' U.S.
Counsel's communications regarding the preparation and
execution of interrogatory answers by plaintiffs.”
(Id. at 35).
defendants allege that “[p]laintiffs' counsel have
a pattern of ‘dropping' plaintiffs and claims in
this case when forced to provide evidence.”
(Id. at 33-34). Defendants note that plaintiffs'
counsel now seek to dismiss at least 684 of the 842
plaintiffs identified in the TAC, including all claims for
children, grandchildren, and wrongful death plaintiffs, as
well as claims for spousal infection with syphilis.
(Id. at 34). Defendants argue that
“plaintiffs' counsel have long insisted that they
could prove a direct causal link between all plaintiffs
infected with syphilis and those individuals who allegedly
contracted syphilis in the Guatemala Experiments.”
(Id. at 12). Specifically, defendants argue, the TAC
stated that “many [plaintiffs] have the Nichols
strain” of syphilis, which would allegedly link
plaintiffs to the Guatemala Experiments. (Id. at
13). Defendants note, however, that plaintiffs' counsel
only produced 10 lab reports that showed that a plaintiff
tested positive for the Nichols strain, although 842
plaintiffs were named in the TAC.(Id.) Further,
defendants argue, plaintiffs' counsel failed to produce
positive test results for three plaintiffs specifically
identified in the TAC as individuals who “tested
positive for the Nichols Strain of syphilis.”
(Id. at 14 (quoting ECF No. 127 at ¶¶ 59,
73)). Defendants further allege that “it is quite
likely that some or all of the lab tests on which plaintiffs
claimed to rely were never performed at all, ” as they
were allegedly performed by plaintiffs' expert Dr.
Orozco. (Id.). In sum, defendants argue
that, had plaintiffs' counsel conducted a diligent
investigation prior to filing this lawsuit, they would have
discovered that these claims were unfounded. (Id. at
7). Defendants argue that, because plaintiffs' counsel
did not conduct a diligent investigation, defendants have
incurred the substantial burden and expense of “time
expended conducting factual investigation concerning the
several hundred plaintiffs who supposedly have been dropped
and to discover falsehoods that were known or should have
been known by plaintiffs' counsel at the outset.”
(Id. at 34).
response, by way of background, plaintiffs' counsel notes
that, following the publication of the U.S. Presidential
Commission's Report on the Guatemala Experiments in 2011,
the attorneys of the Meridian 361 International Law Group
began investigating the experiments from the United States.
(ECF No. 300 at 17). At the same time, Juan Pablo Rodriguez
and his law firm, Escritorio Jurídico Rodriguez
Fajardo y Asociados (“RFA”) began its own
investigation in Guatemala, with the assistance of an
investigative team led by Roberto and Clara Paiz.
(Id. at 18). Specifically, the team's
investigation “included obtaining documentary evidence
about the Experiments from archives, using the list of
victims named in the Guatemalan Archival Report, and working
with sociologists to identify regions of the country from
which different names originated.” (Id. at
19). RFA and its investigative team met with current and
former representatives of the Guatemala Office of the Human
Rights Ombudsman, including Dr. Pablo Werner, who was
retained by RFA to “screen potential clients to
determine whether they exhibited signs and symptoms
consistent with an STD, and if so, to author a
report.” (Id.) RFA later retained Dr.
Abdiel Orozco to test blood from potential clients for
exposure to syphilis. (Id.) RFA then entered into
agreements for legal services directly with plaintiffs and,
in the fall of 2013, entered into an agreement with
plaintiffs' U.S. counsel. (Id. at 19-20).
Counsel then operated “under a necessary division of
labor, ” with U.S. counsel handling the litigation in
this court, and RFA handling aspects of the case centered in
Guatemala. (Id. at 20).
counsel argue that defendants “fail to consider the
unique nature of this international litigation, the
circumstances facing Plaintiffs' counsel, and the
backgrounds of the Plaintiffs themselves.”
(Id. at 33). Specifically, plaintiffs' counsel
argue that they “reasonably relied on the work of a
Latin American attorney familiar with the language and
culture of Latin America, who had the presence and proper
connections inside Guatemala to investigate locally and
screen potential clients.” (Id.) As to
RFA's investigation, plaintiffs' counsel argue that
RFA properly investigated plaintiffs' claims by using the
Archival Report to identify the names of Guatemalan
individuals who were victimized by the Guatemala Experiments,
interviewing victims, confirming that the individuals and
families they interviewed had a connection to the Guatemala
Experiments through identification documents and witness
interviews, obtaining sworn affidavits or written statements
confirming the plaintiffs' relationship to the Guatemala
Experiments, and retaining two well-credentialed medical
officials to screen clients and perform laboratory testing.
(Id. at 33-34). Further, plaintiffs' counsel
argue, they “made their own reasonable efforts within
their abilities to review RFA's client pool and evidence
supporting their claims” by reviewing witness
statements medical and laboratory reports and interviewing
plaintiffs, Drs. Werner and Orozco, and American experts
regarding the transmission of STDs and laboratory testing.
(Id. at 34-35). Accordingly, plaintiffs' counsel
argue, they properly relied on RFA and Drs. Werner and
Orozco, individuals with localized knowledge and resources,
to conduct initial screening of plaintiffs. (Id. at
counsel also argue that “[d]efendants dishonestly
misrepresent witness testimony and improperly attribute
‘discrepancies' between allegations in the
Complaint, interrogatory answers, documents, and deposition
testimony to ‘bad faith' or ‘manufacturing
evidence' on the part of [p]laintiffs' counsel, when
such discrepancies occur in all civil litigation.”
(Id. at 35). Specifically, they argue,
“[i]nconsistencies between witness testimony and
documentary evidence happen routinely in civil
litigation” and these “discrepancies” are
“matters for cross-examination and determination by the
jury at trial.” (Id. at 36). Plaintiffs'
counsel note that most of these deponents have received only
a few years of primary education, some cannot read or write,
and many have received little modern medical care.
(Id.) Additionally, plaintiffs' counsel argue,
“[t]here was undoubtedly an element of unfamiliarity,
discomfort, and trepidation” associated with the
depositions, particularly when “[t]he culture in many
rural areas of Guatemala is such that embarrassing personal
information is not discussed publicly, particularly with
members of the opposite sex, and on top of that, the language
barrier is significant.” (Id. at 37). In light
of these difficulties, plaintiffs' counsel argue, witness
testimony does not establish that any allegation in the TAC
or interrogatory answers was false, but rather creates questions
of fact for the jury to resolve. (Id.)
counsel argues that “[p]erhaps the most glaring example
of Defendants' misrepresentation of witness testimony
regards the deposition of Norma Alicia Lorenzo Lopez.”
(Id. at 43). Plaintiffs' counsel note that
defendants claim that the “certifications” signed
by Ms. Lopez attesting to the fact that fifteen plaintiffs
were students at the Puerto de San Jose school in the 1940s
“were ‘manufactured, false, and invalid'
because Ms. Lopez had ‘no personal basis' on which
to make them, did not rely on her own knowledge of the
community, and ‘merely introduced' RFA's
investigators to the victims, who then ‘gathered
information about who attended the school.'”
(Id. at 44-45 (quoting ECF No. 262-1 at 18)).
Rather, plaintiffs' counsel argue, Ms. Lopez actually
testified that she was the principal of the school at the
time, but that records from the school had been destroyed.
(Id. at 45). To assist RFA and their investigative
team identify students, however, she spoke with town
residents, starting with individuals she knew had attended
the school, and “asked them to recall their classmates
until she had created a list of people.” (Id.)
Accordingly, plaintiffs' counsel argue, Ms. Lopez
“gathered information” about students from the
school, “based on her knowledge, the knowledge of
others she knew, and the common knowledge of the community,
” and signed “certifications” to that
effect. (Id. at 46). While Ms. Lopez did
testify that “she learned that she was not supposed to
sign documents on behalf of the school for use in this case,
” plaintiffs' counsel argue that “[s]he did
not ‘violate' any official Guatemalan government
law or ‘rules'” in signing these
their Reply, defendants argue that “plaintiffs'
U.S.-based counsel cannot avoid responsibility for the work
of their foreign co-counsel, ” Mr. Rodriguez. (ECF No.
332 at 12). Defendants argue that “[m]uch of the
investigatory work to prepare this case appears to have been
undertaken in 2012-13” by Mr. Rodriguez and his firm,
RFA. (Id. at 8). Defendants note, however, that
“[t]hroughout this period, Mr. Rodriguez was a partner
in the Meridian 361 law firm.” (Id. at 8-9).
Defendants also note that, throughout the case, Mr. Rodriguez
and RFA have been listed on pleadings and motions as
“Of Counsel, ” U.S. counsel have referred to Mr.
Rodriguez as “co-counsel, ” and plaintiffs'
counsel have described this case as being brought by three
firms, including RFA, on each of their respective websites.
(Id. at 9-10). Accordingly, defendants argue,
“[p]laintiffs' counsel cannot deputize Mr.
Rodriguez to take crucial actions on their behalf and then
disclaim knowledge when those actions give rise to a legal
dispute.” (Id. at 11). Defendants further
argue that “[a]t a minimum, further discovery is
warranted to get to the bottom of the counsels' division
of responsibility, Mr. Rodriguez's misconduct . . . and
which of plaintiffs' counsel was involved in, knew of, or
had reason to know of the misconduct.” (Id. at
defendants argue that “[p]laintiffs' counsel cannot
explain away their clients' deposition testimony, ”
as “[t]hat testimony reveals significant lapses in
professional conduct by plaintiffs' counsel.”
(Id. at 19). While plaintiffs' counsel represent
that they asked Mr. Rodriguez to explain interrogatory
answers to plaintiffs, ask them to verify the information,
and sign, defendants argue that “some plaintiffs may
have received no such instruction.” Defendants
further argue that plaintiffs' counsel cannot “try
to create a triable dispute of fact-and attempt to counter
unhelpful deposition testimony-by offering the Court a set of
interrogatory responses signed by a witness who did not see a
Spanish translation, did not know the purpose of the
document, did not know that his signature represented an oath
as to the truthfulness of its contents . . . and failed to
testify consistently in his deposition.” (Id.)
As to Ms. Lopez' “certifications, ”
defendants argue that Ms. Lopez testified that “she
merely introduced individuals who may have been students at
the school to the Paizes, and did not participate in
interviews during which the Paizes elicited information about
their purported school attendance.” (Id. at
22-23). Accordingly, defendants argue, “[i]t thus
appears that plaintiffs' counsel and their investigators
generated evidence by obtaining unauthorized official-looking
certifications by a declarant who had no personal knowledge
of the statements that she made.” (Id. at 23).
Dr. Orozco's Lab Reports and Testing
also state that, during the course of discovery, they
developed several concerns regarding the lab reports and
testing performed by plaintiffs' former expert, Dr.
Orozco. First, defendants note that, during discovery,
plaintiffs produced 257 lab test reports, of which all but
four showed a positive result for syphilis and, in some
cases, the Nichols strain. (ECF No. 262-1 at 26). On March 3,
2019, however, plaintiffs produced 42 additional reports, 19
of which showed a negative test for syphilis. (Id.)
Defendants note that those 19 individuals were included as
plaintiffs in the TAC, although the lab reports were dated in
December of 2014, prior to the filing of the first complaint.
(Id.) Defendants also argue that there is evidence
that plaintiffs' counsel possess additional negative lab
reports that have not been produced to defendants, as Dr.
Orozco testified that he brought “hundreds of lab
reports” to his deposition, and that “at least
ten percent” of the tests could be negative.
(Id. at 27). Defendants state, however, that
plaintiffs' counsel refused to produce all of Dr.
Orozco's lab reports in discovery. (Id.)
Plaintiffs' counsel did permit defendants to view the
reports during Dr. Orozco's deposition, and defendants
estimate that there were approximately 72 total negative lab
reports. (Id.) Accordingly, defendants argue,
plaintiffs' counsel have withheld key evidence
“that disproved the basis for naming
individual plaintiffs.”(Id. at 26).
also note that Dr. Orozco's deposition testimony raised
several concerns about the validity of his testing and
reports. First, defendants note, on March 3, 2019, plaintiffs
produced a set of photographs described by plaintiffs'
counsel as “photos of Dr. Orozco's lab provided by
him.” (Id. at 29). During his deposition, Dr.
Orozco testified that he had taken the photographs at his
laboratory and described the equipment shown in the
photograph and how he used that equipment to conduct the
tests detailed in his reports. (Id.) The next day,
defendants realized that the photographs were actually taken
at an unrelated hospital laboratory. (Id. at 30).
Plaintiffs subsequently withdrew Dr. Orozco as an expert.
(Id.) The deposition continued at defendants'
request, however, and defendants note that Dr. Orozco went on
to admit that an official sanitary license for his laboratory
had been altered by a handwritten mark changing the
“7” in “2017” into a “9.”
(Id. at 31). Defendants also state that Dr. Orozco
testified that he was not listed as an active member of the
Guatemalan College of Pharmacists and Chemists between
November 1, 2014 and March 11, 2015, when he performed the
bulk of the tests for this case, although he also stated that
he has retroactively corrected this status. (Id.)
Defendants further note that Dr. Orozco admitted that he had
copied a large portion of his expert report from other
sources, stating that he was pressured to quickly produce a
report by plaintiffs' local counsel, Mr. Rodriguez.
(Id. at 31-32). Finally, defendants report that Dr.
Orozco stated that he did not perform certain DNA sequencing
studies with which the Nichols strain of syphilis could be
detected at his own laboratory, instead claiming that he
conducted the tests at another lab in
Guatemala. (Id. at 33).
argue that Dr. Orozco's false deposition testimony
“leaves in doubt whether any lab tests were
ever performed on any
plaintiff.” (Id.) While defendants note
that plaintiffs are no longer relying on Dr. Orozco's
tests and have subsequently dropped many claims, defendants
argue that “this question is still relevant to
defendants' motion for sanctions, ” noting that
“[d]efendants and the [c]ourt do not yet know
who was actively complicit in fabricating this
evidence.” (Id.) Accordingly, defendants ask
to examine Dr. Orozco's office computer and email system,
plaintiffs' U.S. counsel's file of communications
with Dr. Orozco and his employees regarding the testing of
plaintiffs and the preparation of his report, and Mr.
Rodriguez' file, including all communication with Dr.
Orozco. (Id. at 35-36).
response, plaintiffs' counsel argue that
“[d]efendants improperly attribute the misconduct of an
expert to [p]laintiffs' counsel.” (ECF No. 300 at
48). While plaintiffs' counsel acknowledge that Dr.
Orozco testified falsely during his deposition, they state
that they “absolutely were not complicit in it, and did
nothing to encourage or facilitate it.” (Id.)
Rather, plaintiffs' counsel argue, they took immediate
action by informing defense counsel and the court and
withdrawing Dr. Orozco as an expert. (Id. at 48-49).
As to the portions of his report that were copied from other
sources, plaintiffs' counsel argue that “the
substance of the ‘plagiarized' portions were simply
a step-by-step description of the standard methodology for
laboratory tests for syphilis.” (Id. at 49).
Further, plaintiffs' counsel state, “Dr. Orozco did
not ‘plagiarize' his opinions or conclusions, which
were contained in his lab reports for the specific
[p]laintiffs, not his Rule 26 report.” (Id. at
50). Plaintiffs' counsel also note that “Dr. Orozco
was a well-credentialed expert witness” that they had
interviewed prior to his deposition, and that “[t]hey
had no reason to question the validity of his testing or the
opinions he offered regarding the [p]laintiffs' exposure
to syphilis.” (Id. at 50). Additionally,
plaintiffs' counsel argue, “[d]efendants make the
unsupported leap that because Dr. Orozco falsely testified
about photos of his lab, or copied parts of his report from
descriptions on the Internet, it must mean not only that all
of his testing was a lie, but also, that [p]laintiffs'
counsel must have known about that lie.” (Id.)
To the contrary, however, plaintiffs' counsel argue that
“[d]efendants have no proof that the testing done by
Dr. Orozco was fraudulent, and certainly no proof that if it
was, [p]laintiffs' counsel knew about it.”
(Id.) Finally, plaintiffs' counsel argue that
they provided Dr. Orozco's lab reports to defendants as
soon as they received them from RFA and Dr. Orozco, and
therefore “did not purposefully withhold any evidence
in bad faith.” (Id. at 51)
their Reply, defendants argue that Dr. Orozco's perjury
went both to the heart of his testimony as an expert as well
as the heart of plaintiffs' case, as “it was the
direct cause of their abandoning the claims of hundreds of
plaintiffs that hinged on Dr. Orozco's lab tests,
reducing their plaintiff pool to 157 persons.” (ECF No.
332 at 15). Defendants also note that they have received 22
new sets of lab reports from a different lab in Guatemala
pertaining to plaintiffs who were previously the subject of
Dr. Orozco's lab reports showing positive results.
(Id. at 16). 16 of these reports, however, now show
negative results. (Id.) Accordingly, defendants
argue, “[a]ssuming the new reports are valid, it is
therefore virtually certain that Dr. Orozco's reports are
defendants argue that “plaintiffs' claims are based
on manufactured evidence, false sworn statements, and
unsupportable allegations that even a cursory investigation
would have shown were unfounded.” (ECF No. 262 at 1).
Accordingly, defendants ask that the court “permit
defendants to pursue targeted discovery to ensure that the
full scope of the abuses are uncovered and to allow
defendants to use that discovery in support of an anticipated
future motion under Rule 11.” (Id.) Defendants
further ask the court to “require plaintiffs'
counsel to reimburse defendants for the fees and expenses
incurred as a result of their improper litigation
conduct.” (Id. at 2). In response,
plaintiffs' counsel argue that defendants have failed to
establish that they are entitled to either request. (ECF No.
300 at 10-11). Similarly, plaintiffs' counsel contest the
truth of defendants' allegations. (Id.) It
should be noted that many of the arguments raised by