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Grimes v. Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Maryland
782 A.2d 807 (2001)


Facts

The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. (KKI) (defendant), an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, created a non-therapeutic research program involving lead paint in rental homes around Baltimore, Maryland. The research project targeted primarily low-income and minority residents and encouraged landlords to rent the properties to families with young children. KKI planned to test the children’s blood over a number of years to see the extent to which it became contaminated with lead. KKI approached the families and had them sign consent documents agreeing to participate in the study. There was no clear explanation in the consent agreements that the research involved exposing the children to lead and testing children’s blood for lead. For their participation, families received nominal financial compensation ranging from $5 to $15. KKI’s research protocols were approved by the entity’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) which was required to additionally review the safety and health hazard impact on human subjects, including vulnerable subjects like children. Viola Hughes and her daughter, Erica Grimes, (plaintiffs) were participants in the study. KKI found lead “hot spots” in Hughes’ home and tested Grimes’ blood which was significantly contaminated with lead. KKI notified Hughes of the blood test results after the “hot spots” were detected. After learning of the hot spots and Grimes’ blood work results, Hughes and Grimes ceased participation in the study and moved out of their home. They and several other affected families sued KKI alleging that it failed to timely warn them that lead exposure was contemplated by the study. The trial court granted KKI’s motion for summary judgment, holding it had no legal duty to warn Hughes and Grimes. Hughes and Grimes appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Cathell, J.)

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Concurrence (Raker, J.)

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