A federal judge has ruled in favor of Penn in a recent lawsuit against a neuroscientist who died after exposure to radiation while researching at the University.
Jeffrey Ware, a 47-year-old neuroscientist, developed a rare form of brain cancer during his research at the Perelman School of Medicine and fell victim to the gliosarcoma in October 2011. He studied the effects of radiation on animals in order to ultimately prevent the development of cancer in astronauts.
His family’s attorneys argued that the University did not equip the lab’s employees with dosimeter badges, which measure radiation exposure.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2013 through the Court of Common Pleas, but Penn successfully argued for it to be transferred to federal court, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In order to win in the Court of Common Pleas, the plaintiffs would have to prove that Ware's exposure to radiation was a significant factor in the onset of his cancer. For the standards of the federal court, the plaintiffs only had to prove that the deceased had been exposed to radiation levels equivalent to that of a nuclear power-plant meltdown.
The original complaint included that there were two other employees who were diagnosed with cancer during the same time period, the Inquirer reported.
The family also argued that Ware was enrolled in a study without his consent, treating his cancer with more of the radiation which they believed had caused it. They alleged that it caused severe side effects, though he was far beyond the point of recovery.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the University of Pennsylvania took better care of pigs, ferrets and mice that were the subject of the radiation-exposure research than they took of Dr. Ware," the original complaint read.
The plaintiffs are appealing the decision as they believe it is a case belonging to the Court of Common Pleas, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Price-Anderson Act, which regards nuclear power plants rather than laboratories. His family has also filed a worker’s compensation claim, which is on hold.
In this case, the expert witnesses testified that the radiation levels Ware was submitted to were not high enough to have caused his cancer.
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