Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Grimes v. Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. case brief

Grimes v. Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. case brief summary
782 A.2d 807 (2001)

On appeal from summary judgment by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, the court considered two separate negligence actions involving children who allegedly developed elevated levels of lead dust in their blood while participating in a research study with respondent corporation. Both cases alleged the children were poisoned, or at least exposed to the risk of being poisoned, due to negligence on the part of the corporation.


The trial court ruled a corporation conducting a nontherapeutic scientific study of lead paint abatement did not have a duty to warn minor volunteer participants and/or their legal guardians regarding dangers present when the researcher had knowledge of the potential for harm and the subjects were unaware of the danger.


  • The appeals court disagreed. 
  • Such research programs normally created special relationships and/or could be of a contractual nature, to create duties. 
  • Breach of such duties could ultimately result in viable negligence actions. 
  • At the very least, there were viable and genuine disputes of material fact concerning whether a special relationship or other relationships arising out of agreements giving rise to duties existed between the corporation and both sets of appellants. 
  • Based on the record, no degree of parental consent and no degree of furnished information to the parents could have made the experiment at issue ethically or legally permissible. It was wrong in the first instance. 
  • The appeals court held the trial court erred in granting summary judgment.

Judgment was vacated and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

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