A federal judge recently approved a $1 billion lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N) and the Rockefeller Foundation. The lawsuit is seeking restitution for victims who were intentionally infected with syphilis during government experiments in Guatemala during the 1940s.
Hundreds of Guatemalans were reportedly infected with syphilis during the studies, which were designed to test the ability of penicillin to treat sexually transmitted diseases. The lawsuit was pending and waiting in limbo for the past four years until it was finally approved by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang last month. In 2015, when the lawsuit was originally filed, there were 750 victims seeking restitution, now there are only 444 plaintiffs and some remaining relatives.
The test subjects in the experiments were mainly children, orphans, patients from mental hospitals and inmates.
The horrific studies remained a secret until 2010 when Dr. Susan Reverby of Wellesley College in Massachusetts uncovered details of the experiment, forcing a formal apology from then President Barack Obama.
Reverby learned of the experiments after the death of John Charles Cutler, one of the lead researchers in the study. Cutler left behind a stack of files which contained details of the barbaric experiments.