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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Veteran ‘Guinea Pig’ Case Wrapped Up in Ninth

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A Ninth Circuit panel refused to rehear a case involving the government's duty to provide medical care for participants in Cold War-era drug experiments.

This past July, the panel found the U.S. Army has an ongoing duty to provide medical care to veterans who were subjected to such experiments.

The plaintiffs initially claimed thousands of veterans have suffered various medical problems after the Army and CIA experimented on soldiers with a number of dangerous drugs.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken certified the class in 2012, and awarded those veterans some relief a year later - ordering the Army to warn its former experiment subjects about potential health concerns as it becomes aware of them.

Both sides pushed for more at oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit in September 2014, but a divided three-judge panel sided with the veterans this past June.

The 29-page majority opinion focused on Army Regulation 70-25, which entitles test subjects to medical treatment for illnesses resulting from experiments.

"We hold that the injunction is appropriately tailored to direct the Army to carry out its duty to warn," Circuit Judge William Fletcher wrote for the court.

"In requiring the Army to tell former test subjects about 'newly acquired information that may affect their well-being,' the injunction merely reiterates the plain language of AR 70-25's duty to warn," Fletcher added.

This past September, the government defendants filed a petition for rehearing, which the majority of the panel voted to deny.

Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace parted with his colleagues, voting to grant the rehearing petition and also recommending an en banc rehearing.

In the amended opinion published Tuesday, the panel wrote that future petitions for rehearing will not be considered.

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