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Dismissal of suit on STD experiments appealed

| Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, 12:08 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- Guatemalans who had been subjected to sexually transmitted diseases by U.S. researchers in the 1940s have appealed a judge's dismissal of their lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the suit two months ago. He ruled that federal law bars claims against the United States based on injuries suffered abroad. The victims filed an appeal Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The suit, on behalf of the victims and their heirs, was filed after revelations that Guatemalan prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and orphans had been deliberately infected without their consent. The researchers were studying the effects of penicillin, then a relatively new drug.

A future University of Pittsburgh researcher led the study. Dr. John Cutler died in 2003. Cutler came to Pitt in 1967 and was acting dean of the Graduate School of Public Health in 1968.

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius have apologized for the research.

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