A Battelle database of chemical and biological experiments on U.S. military troops has placed the Columbus-based research institute in the middle of a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit does not allege that Battelle conducted experiments itself. But under a contract with the Department of Defense, the institute has cataloged experiments conducted by the government from the 1950s until the 1970s.
Thousands of service members were subjected to nerve gas, LSD and amphetamines among other substances, according to government reports.
A group of veterans who say they were subjected to those experiments wants the database. A federal judge in California, where the lawsuit was filed in 2009, has ordered the government to produce it, and the government has agreed to do so.
But Battelle hasn't turned over key details, the veterans argued in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus this week.
The veterans want a judge to force Battelle to release information about how the database was compiled, including the raw information that was used to generate statistics, said Gordon P. Erspamer, the San Francisco-based attorney for the veterans.
The veterans have concerns about the accuracy of the database, he said.
"There are a lot of issues," he said.
A Battelle spokesman declined to comment yesterday because of the ongoing litigation.
The original lawsuit asks that the veterans be notified of the exact testing done on them; that they be treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs for any injuries or illnesses they suffered because of the experiments; and that they be released from secrecy oaths they took during the tests.
The veterans who filed the original case are asking that it be certified as a class-action lawsuit. If a federal judge agrees, the case could affect veterans across the country.
Friday, April 15, 2011 03:06 AM