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Henrietta Lacks’ Family and Biotech Firm Reach Historic Settlement Over Stolen Cells

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By Jessica Calefati, The Baltimore Banner

Henrietta Lacks’ living relatives reached a settlement late Monday with the multi-billion-dollar biotechnology company they sued seeking compensation for its routine use of regenerative cells that were taken from her decades ago without her consent, according to a statement released by the family’s lawyers.

The terms of the settlement with Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific will remain confidential. But the success of the legal strategy increases the likelihood that this becomes the first in a series of complaints seeking compensation for, and control of Lacks’ cells. Her “HeLa” cells were the world’s first capable of replicating outside the body.

The family is represented jointly by attorney Ben Crump, who is known nationally for representing Black victims of police violence, and attorney Chris Seeger, who has led some of the most significant class action lawsuits in U.S. history. They plan to announce the agreement at a news conference in Baltimore on Tuesday, which would have been Lacks’ 103rd birthday.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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