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Henrietta Lacks family wins lawsuit against biotech company


’HeLa cells’ would lead to miracle discoveries

The descendants of Henrietta Lacks won their lawsuit against a multi-billion-dollar biotech company for their use of her stolen cells.

The estate filed a lawsuit against Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. for profiting from Lacks’ unique cells. As EUR reported previously, citing a press release of attorney Ben Crump, Thermo Fisher Scientific made a conscious choice to sell and mass-produce the living tissue of Henrietta Lacks, despite the corporation’s knowledge that Lacks’ tissue had been taken from her without her consent by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The case is considered part of a conspiracy to harvest tissue for research from Black women without their knowledge or consent in racially segregated wards throughout the 1950s.

Lacks died at the age of 31 from an aggressive case of cervical cancer. Before her death 70 years ago, doctors from Johns Hopkins Hospital took samples of her cancerous cells and gave them to researchers without her or her family members’ knowledge or consent.

According to the family’s suit, Thermo Fisher sells multiple products containing the HeLa cell line to buyers across the globe. As stated in the complaint: "In the last several years, Thermo Fisher Scientific has made staggering profits in the tens of millions of dollars by using the HeLa cell line – all while Ms. Lacks’ Estate and family haven’t seen a dime of it."

According to the lawsuit, per the news release, Thermo Fisher seeks intellectual property rights to these products, staking a claim to Lacks’ genetic material for its own pecuniary gain – even though the company "has known that HeLa cells were stolen from Ms. Lacks."

This month, Crump and attorney Chris Seeger announced in a statement that "the family of Henrietta Lacks and Thermo Fisher have agreed to settle the litigation filed by Henrietta Lacks’ Estate, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore."

"The terms of the agreement will be confidential. The parties are pleased that they were able to find a way to resolve this matter outside of Court and will have no further comment about the settlement," the statement continued.

Crump announced the settlement at a news conference on August 1, saying: "The parties are pleased that they were able to find a way to resolve this matter outside of court and will have no further comment about the settlement."\