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Judge OKs Radiation Suit Settlement

April 6, 1999

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A judge has approved a tentative $5 million settlement of a lawsuit charging that cancer patients were unknowingly subjected to military-sponsored radiation experiments in the 1960s and ’70s.

The families that filed the class-action lawsuit claimed high-dose radiation hastened the deaths and increased the suffering of patients, in effect making them casualties of the Cold War.

The lawsuit, filed five years ago, alleged that terminally ill cancer patients treated at Cincinnati General Hospital between 1960 and 1971 were given full-body and partial-body doses of radiation so researchers could measure its effects. The facility is now known as University Hospital.

Defendants, including doctors, the federal government and the hospital, argued that they attempted to ease suffering and that patients died because they already were terminally ill with various forms of cancer.

Only one of the patients survives; she was 10 when she received radiation treatment for bone cancer in 1969. Many of the 90 patients died soon after receiving radiation.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith said Monday that she would hold a hearing May 4 to make the settlement final, barring any problems.

Most of the families would get about $50,000 each, said Robert Newman, attorney for about 50 plaintiffs. ``I think everybody around the table is pleased and happy it is over,″ he said. A probate court would determine how to distribute the money. Attorneys have asked for $1 million.

Researchers acknowledged that the Defense Department paid $651,000 for the test results so it could learn about the effects of radiation exposure. They maintained that they thought radiation _ still used in treating some cancers _ would be beneficial.

The proposed settlement also would require a memorial plaque at the University of Cincinnati campus and an apology from the federal government.

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