Estate of Arturo Giron Alvarez et al v. The John Hopkins University et al
MEMORANDUM re: Initial Procedural Order. Signed by Judge Marvin J. Garbis on 2/5/2018. (dass, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ESTATE OF ARTURO GIRON ALVAREZ *
by and through Maria Ana Giron
Galindo as Administrator,
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
CIVIL ACTION NO. MJG-15-950
MEMORANDUM RE: INITIAL PROCEDURAL ORDER
The Court has before it Defendants’ Motion for Preliminary
Case Management Order [ECF No. 159] and the materials submitted
A conference was held regarding the motion on
February 5, 2018.
The 842 Plaintiffs present claims in six Categories:
“Direct Plaintiffs”: Guatemalans who were
unknowingly, and without their consent, infected
with syphilis as part of the Guatemala Experiments.
“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
“Children”: the sons and daughters of a Direct
Plaintiff or the spouse of the son or daughter of a
Direct Plaintiff and Spouse.
“Descendants”: the grandchildren or greatgrandchildren of a Direct Plaintiff.
“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
“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
All claims are based upon alleged nonconsensual medical
experimentation conducted by certain individuals in the 1940s in
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.
Court agrees with the parties that a case management order is
necessary to reduce any unnecessary discovery and to efficiently
All Wrongful Death Plaintiffs are also members of
Categories 1, 2, 3, 4, and/or 6.
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.
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
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.
The Court wishes to avoid any need for extensive discovery
into the individual claims of each of the 842 Plaintiffs.
However, it recognizes that Defendants are entitled to full
discovery with regard to any claim that shall proceed to trial.
The Court finds it appropriate to require Plaintiffs to select
at least one, and no more than three, Plaintiffs (to be called
The Court has the authority to “adopt special procedures for
managing potentially difficult or protracted actions that may
involve complex issues, multiple parties, difficult legal
questions, or unusual proof problems.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16.
“Selected Plaintiffs”) in each of the six Categories of claims
and allow Defendants to engage in full discovery regarding the
Once discovery is complete, Defendants
can, if appropriate, seek summary judgment for the entire
Category of claims made by the Selected Plaintiffs.
Defendants seek to have Plaintiffs provide them with an
initial statement of the basis upon which each Plaintiff was
named in the Complaint and to produce existing documents
supporting the decision to name the individual as a Plaintiff.
Plaintiffs have stated that they can do this within 60 days.
The parties recognize that the initial basis would be provided
for informational purposes only and may be utilized in regard to
inter-party communications, meet and confers, and perhaps in
procedural suggestions to the Court, but not prematurely as a
basis for summary judgment.
It is presently anticipated that Defendants will seek
summary judgment with regard to the claims asserted by the
Should the Defendants be entitled to
summary judgment with regard to all Selected Plaintiffs
asserting a Category of claims, Defendants shall be granted
summary judgment with regard to all claims asserted within that
Should Defendants fail to obtain summary judgment
with regard to one or more Selected Plaintiffs, that
circumstance would not resolve the claims asserted by other
Plaintiffs within the Category.
Plaintiffs will need to engage in discovery to obtain
evidence to support their contentions that the Defendants should
be held liable for the actions of certain individuals who caused
the losses claimed by Plaintiffs.
This may include discovery
from archives or documents dating back to the 1940s.
state that they will cooperate professionally with Plaintiffs in
regard to these discovery requests.
The parties can begin discovery immediately.
Judge Gesner has stated that she will request parties to agree
to a set of informal procedures for efficient discovery
The Court recognizes that the parties cannot, at this time,
state their respective positions regarding the time needed for
discovery or summary judgment motions.
However, they have
agreed to participate in a case planning conference with the
Court to be held approximately May 5, 2018 to address the
scheduling of further matters.
The Court is issuing herewith the Initial Procedural Order
that shall lead to a case planning conference to be held about
May 5, 2018.
The parties have stated their intention to meet
and confer prior to the case planning conference.
Judge Gesner and the undersigned Judge shall also be available
to confer with the parties prior to the case planning conference
SO ORDERED, this Monday, February 05, 2018.
Marvin J. Garbis
United States District Judge
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