NewsLocal News

Actions

Ahead of her 101st birthday, family of Henrietta Lacks push for justice

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 18:36:40-04

BALTIMORE — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin are the few families Attorney Benjamin Crump has represented.

Today, he was in Baltimore discussing what he calls a potential landmark case.

He's now representing the family of Henrietta Lacks who's cancerous cells made pharmaceutical companies a fortune, the family says unjustly and unethically.

Mistrust in the black community regarding medical treatment is a years-long issue that Henrietta lack's case validates.

Thursday, ahead of what would be her 101st birthday her family and their legal team is looking to right the wrong that profited medical businesses billions.

Henrietta Lack's cancerous cells went on to be the first human cells ever to be cloned and since have been used to research vaccines, cancer treatment and other advances in medicine; but, it was all done without the families knowledge or consent.

"What we’re doing right now is very important and very synonymous to the mistrust we’ve all been dealing with in America," said Alan Wilks.

The lacks family says doctors at Johns Hopkins hospital around 1950 unjustly and brutally violated her

"She had radium sewn onto her cervix to try to eradicate cervical cancer which was burning her from the inside out. This is so barbaric and so disrespectful to this family," Lack's grandson expressed.

"They treated her like a specimen, like a lab rat, like she wasn’t human with no family, no babies, no husband that loved her. The family had no idea what was taking place but finally the truth will be told," said Kimberly Lacks, Henrietta's granddaughter.

Attorney Christopher Seeger who’s dealt with high profile litigation similar to this case says the Lacks family are victims of one of the most severe cases of corporate theft in our country’s history.

"I can't think of an American family that has done more for modern medicine than the lacks family and they got nothing for it," Seeger said.

They have been unjustly enriched to the tune of billions of dollars while her family has never been afforded any equity," said Crump.

Though Attorney Crump couldn’t speak to just who would be named as defendants in their litigation, he says when they do take aim the pay off, he predicts, will be historic.

"It is unprecedented the relief that will be granted by the courts or settled with the corporations in advance with litigation if they so desire," Crump said.

There’s a large list of potential defendants who could be named in the case. Attorney Crump tells us he’ll provide those details before October 4, the 70 year mark since Lacks cells were taken.