In briefs filed Sept. 17, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland Medical System and other academic and medical organizations urged the Maryland Court of Appeals to reconsider or modify aspects of an Aug. 16 ruling that revived lawsuits against Kennedy Krieger brought by two families who participated in a 1992 lead paint cleanup study.
The parties ask that the court's collateral ruling on the issue of parental and guardian consent for research on children and persons under legal disability be modified to realign Maryland law with rules that currently govern all federally sponsored and federally conducted research, and rules that are parallel with laws in the other 49 states.
If allowed to stand, the Aug. 16 ruling "would cripple pursuit of critical medical and public health research," according to the amicus, or friend of the court, brief filed by JHU, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities and UMMS.
Notably, the briefs from these parties do not ask the court to reverse its decision on the lower court cases. Instead, they agree with the state's highest court judges that these cases be sent back to the Circuit Court for trial to develop all the facts regarding the lead paint study, which was approved by a Hopkins institutional review board.
Gary Goldstein, president of KKI, said the institute is confident the Circuit Court "will agree with us that the lead paint abatement study ... brought benefits to all participating children and their families, was properly planned and conducted, that homes in the study all had lead cleanup, and families were promptly informed of blood test results." The lawsuits on behalf of two children in the study were dismissed by the Circuit Court without trial and were then appealed to the Court of Appeals.
In their brief, the parties take strong issue with the language and scope of the court's opinion with respect to the issue of parental and guardian consent for participation of children and noncompetent adults in research, saying "the Court should review, reconsider and rescind that portion of its decision" whose unintended consequences would seriously damage vital research.
For more about the lead paint study, go to: www.hopkinsmedicine.org.