Friday, September 30, 2005

No stuttering by Iowa Supreme Court

The State Supreme Court of Iowa has ruled that a lawsuit against the University of Iowa may proceed. The plaintiffs are a group of adults who as children were raised in the Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home.

In 1939, professor Wendell Johnson of the University of Iowa conducted a study on stuttering. He used as his test subjects children at the Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home. None of these children suffered any kind of speech defect, including stuttering. At least they did not until Professor Johnson got through with them. He induced stuttering in the helpless children and many still experience speech difficulties today, 66 years later. The test subjects did not know what had been done to them until some of them read a report about the study in 2001.

They sued for damages and the State of Iowa decided to fight the lawsuit. The state's position was that, in 1939, an Iowa citizen had no right to sue the state. That situation was corrected in the mid 1960's by the Iowa Tort Claims Act. The State Supreme Court ruled that the suit could go forward since the state of the law in 1939 was not the issue. Since the former stuttering study subjects did not learn of their abuse until 2001, that would be the time period under which the lawsuit could proceed.

Inducing speech defects in helpless children, orphan children, orphans of military veterans. Sounds pretty cold hearted to me. I think that Iowa is going to pay.

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