A researcher whose work has been subject to three retractions and two expressions of concern has settled a lawsuit he filed against his university for breach of contract and emotional distress.
Rakesh Kumar had sued George Washington University for $8 million, claiming that his employer had relieved him of department chair duties without following the correct procedure, following a finding of misconduct in his lab. He also claimed that the university had either leaked confidential information about an investigation into his work, or at least failed to keep that information from being posted in a comment here on Retraction Watch.
We asked Kumar’s attorney, Paul Thaler, to describe the terms of the settlement and say whether Kumar would remain employed at George Washington:
Dr. Rakesh Kumar and George Washington University wished to resolve and settle all of their differences to avoid the delay, expense and uncertainty associated with administrative proceedings and litigation. Accordingly, they have reached mutually agreeable terms to settle all disputes between them. Those terms are confidential.
Barbara “Biz” Van Gelder, an attorney for the university, also said she could not comment on the settlement.
Thaler, who in a July post explained why he represents scientists accused of misconduct, had earlier described the university’s investigation and report as “sub-standard.” Callan Stein, another attorney who represents scientists in similar cases but who was not involved in this case, noted in April that the court’s decision in March to reject some portions of the suit may create a precedent for private universities to have the kind of immunity from lawsuits related to misconduct that the government has in some cases.
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