Litigation Team Successfully Defends The Rockefeller Foundation Against Alien Tort Statute Claims  

May 13, 2022

Dechert has secured a significant litigation victory for The Rockefeller Foundation in one of the first summary judgment rulings on the Alien Tort Statute following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Nestle USA, Inc. v. Doe last year.

In 2015, a class of estates and beneficiaries of individuals who were subjected to syphilis testing conducted by the U.S. and Guatemalan governments in the 1940s, filed a civil action against Johns Hopkins University and The Rockefeller Foundation, alleging they aided and abetted that non-consensual human experimentation, in violation of the Alien Tort Statute. In defense, the foundation argued that the lawsuit was meritless because it did not design, fund or manage any aspect of the experiments.

A Dechert team, led by litigation partners Sheila Birnbaum and Michael McGinley, counsel Danielle Gentin Stock and associates Justin Romeo and Sharon Turret, recently secured summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs' claims. In April 2022, the federal district court issued a 77-page opinion that thoroughly rejected the claims against The Rockefeller Foundation due to a “lack of sufficient evidence that Rockefeller was responsible” for the experiments.

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