Maybe the polar vortex is to blame (chilling effect, and all), but it must be lawsuit season!
First it was Mario Saad, . Now Rakesh Kumar is getting in on the action. According to George Washington University student paper the GW Hatchet, Kumar was put on administrative leave from his position as chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular medicine in May 2014, though he was still allowed to run his lab until July 25. In response, he’s suing the university for breach of contract and emotional distress. You can read the whole thing here.
Kumar is asking for $8 million, claiming that GW failed to go through the firing procedure outlined in his tenure contract and owes him because he can’t get a new job.
The exact nature of the accusations against Kumar, who has had five papers corrected and two retracted for problematic images, is unclear. According to the suit, a copy of which RW has obtained:
None of the allegations set forth in the misconduct proceedings asserted that Dr. Kumar conducted the underlying research or personally ever fabricated or falsified research data or prepared the figures in question for any of the manuscripts at issue in the proceedings. Rather, all but one allegation centered on Dr. Kumar’s supervision of the junior scientists in his laboratory and the existence of an allegedly stressful laboratory environment. The one remaining allegation had woefully inadequate evidentiary support.
In addition to the accusations of poor lab management, the researcher also claims he found it especially galling to be escorted from a July 25, 2014, meeting by campus police:
Dr. Kumar’s removal by GW Security was very public and humiliating and has irreparably damaged Dr. Kumar’s reputation.
We haven’t been left out of the matter, either. The lawsuit mentions comments posted in March 2013 on unrelated articles — although, like many people unversed with the terminology of the internet, whoever wrote the document mixed up bloggers and commenters (click for a full-sized version):
Here’s the comment in question, which a “Mr. chromatin” posted a few times on the site:
JBC should retract the following two papers. May be it is waiting for a correction, just like the recent correction in PNAS (http://www.pnas.org/content/110/10/4147.extract.html). ORI knows it all.
Sankaran et al., February 17, 2012, Vol.287, No.8,
Marzook et al., February 17, 2012 Vol 287, No.8,
Fig no. 7C from Marzook matches with Fig. no. 8b and 8d of Sankaran.
Fig no. 7A from Marzook matches with Fig. no. 8c of Sankaran.
Hat tip the American Bazaar.