A settlement has been reached in a former Holmesburg Prison inmate's $6-million lawsuit which charged that he developed leukemia as a result of Univerity workers injecting him with radioactive material during a 1967 prison experiment. Plaintiff Edward Farrington, who filed the handwritten suit in federal court in October 1990, was paid "an undisclosed sum in order to avoid the costs of litigation and to buy peace," Associate General Counsel Neil Hamburg said last week. Both Hamburg and Teri Himebaugh, who represented Farrington as his court-appointed counsel, refused to discuss details of the settlement. Lawyers for the city and Holmesburg Prison, which Farrington also named as defendants, could not be reached. Hamburg said the University continues to deny Farrington's allegations and made no admission of guilt in the settlement, which was reached early last month. In the suit, Farrington cited permanent scars and his bout with leukemia in demanding $1 million in compensation and $5 million in punitive damages. He could not be reached for comment. Farrington claimed that workers from the University "enticed" him into participating in the radiation study by assuring him there would be no lasting effects. He alleged that officials from the University and the prison lied about the risks. Farrington said seven permanent tatoos on his back and arms show where workers injected the radioactive material. He said workers used a geiger counter for a period of weeks to examine and measure the effects of the radiation. Farrington said in the suit that he could not recall what department of the University oversaw the alleged experiment, and could not produce any names of the workers, except "McBride." Lawyers for the University acknowledged in legal briefs that a person named McBride had worked for the University in 1967. But they firmly denied that any such individual was involved in the kind of experiments described in Farrington's suit. The Unversity's lawyers initially expressed frustration in trying to respond to the suit, complaining that they needed to know more about Farrington's accusations in order to frame an appropriate defense. After Farrington filed a slightly more detailed complaint, the University's lawyers replied that an investigation at the University had failed to verify Farrington's account of such University-conducted radiation experiments. From the filing of the suit until its settlement, the case took a number of bizarre twists that repeatedly delayed its resolution and almost led to the suit's dismissal. Farrington requested the court to appoint him a lawyer, but the first six lawyers appointed by the court asked to be taken off the case due to a conflict of interest. Himebaugh said many of them had to drop the case because of ties to the University. By the time Himebaugh became the seventh court-appointed lawyer in the case last fall, Farrington had a lawyer with no University connection. But when Himebaugh tried to get in touch with her new client, she learned he had violated his parole and could not be located by the authorities. The University's lawyers then petitioned the court to throw out the case, citing the plaintiff's failure to prosecute his own case as one of its reasons. Himebaugh said that just when the judge was about to rule on the University's request, she learned that Farrington had been at Episcopal Hospital the whole time, recovering from injuries he sustained after falling down some stairs. Himebaugh said he suffered "partial paralysis" after the fall and had lapsed into a coma. A spokesperson at Episcopal refused to confirm whether Farrington had been a patient there, citing the hospital's confidentiality policy. Once Farrington recovered, Himebaugh said, he expressed interest in pursuing his case and a settlement was soon reached.Comments powered by Disqus
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