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Henrietta Lacks’ Family Files Lawsuit Against Thermo Fischer Scientific

Members of the Henrietta Lacks family have filed a lawsuit against Thermo Fisher Scientific for profiting off of biotech products made using cells taken decades earlier, without her consent or compensation. Products made from Henrietta Lacks’ genetic material, known as HeLa cells, have been used in developments of pharmaceuticals, medical procedures, and important discoveries since the 1950s but the family has never received just compensation.

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Our Role

Seeger Weiss LLP founding partner Chris Seeger serves as co-lead counsel along with Ben Crump, representing members of the Henrietta Lacks family seeking justice against Thermo Fisher Scientific. Seeger has led some of the most complex, groundbreaking, and high-profile litigations in U.S. history, including National Prescription Opioid Litigation, 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, the Vioxx litigation, and National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation.

Case Updates

  • 5/17/22

    A hearing regarding the motion to dismiss will be held at 10am ET on May 17, 2022.

  • 2/22/22

    Two amicus briefs were filed in support of the Lacks family, responding to the motion to dismiss filed by Thermo Fisher. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Health Law Program, and The National Women’s Law Center filed an amicus brief in support of the Lacks family arguing that the enrichment of Thermo Fisher relies on acts enabled and sanctioned by systemic racism. Southern University Law School Professor Deleso Alford filed a separate amicus brief contending that Thermo Fisher’s motion to dismiss should be denied.

  • 2/14/22

    Plaintiffs filed a response to Thermo Fisher’s motion to dismiss, arguing that Thermo Fisher actively continues to unjustly enrich itself to this very day. The response argues that every time a sale of Ms. Lacks’ biological material is made, the clock for the statute of limitations resets itself, allowing for the family to proceed with its legal claims.

  • 12/16/21

    Thermo Fisher filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The company argued that the family’s unjust enrichment claim is time-barred because the case was filed after the statute of limitations had run out. The Lacks family will file a response to this motion to dismiss.

  • 10/4/21

    Legal counsel representing the family of Henrietta Lacks, including attorneys from Seeger Weiss LLP and Ben Crump Law, filed a complaint against biotechnology conglomerate Thermo Fisher Scientific. In the complaint, plaintiffs allege Thermo Fisher unjustly enriched itself by profiting from cells unethically stolen from Ms. Lacks without her knowledge or consent.