Diabetes researcher won’t give up court fight to quash expressions of concern

Mario Saad, via unicamp.br
Mario Saad, via unicamp.br

Apparently, you can’t keep Mario Saad down.

The researcher, who had 12 figures in a paper corrected this week, was dealt a setback last week when a judge denied his motion to remove expressions of concern on four of his papers in the journal Diabetes, saying that would have amounted to prior restraint — essentially, censorship (a no-no, thanks to the First Amendment).

Saad and his attorneys, however, were undeterred. They filed a motion for reconsideration just four days later, along with a brief, arguing:

The relief Dr. Saad is seeking cannot not be viewed as a prior restraint as the expression of concern has been already published online and in print and has been seen by countless individuals. The ADA’s message has been disseminated and Dr. Saad is not seeking to stop the ADA from broadcasting this message in the first instance. Rather he is seeking to have the expression of concern removed at this time to limit the continued foreseeable harm and damage.

We’re not lawyers, as they say on the Internet. But Ken White — aka Popehat, who alerted us to the new motion — is, so we’ll defer to his opinion:

In other words, Dr. Saad thinks that when he asks the Court to order the ADA not to publish items in its print magazine, and to take down its online content, that’s not “prior restraint” because the ADA has already gotten to speak once…That is not an argument I’d expect from a lawyer. That is an argument I’d expect from a guy trying to start a fight in a bowling alley.

The American Diabetes Association, which publishes Diabetes, responded on March 2:

Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration – based on the novel argument unsupported by any legal citation that injunctive relief cannot be viewed as a prior restraint on speech – should likewise be denied, especially given that it is contrary to First Circuit precedent and also because plaintiff is not relying on newly discovered evidence, there has not been a change in the law, nor was the decision based on a manifest error of law or fact.

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8 thoughts on “Diabetes researcher won’t give up court fight to quash expressions of concern”

  1. All documents in this case are available at PACER, perhaps RW can follow the suit and make some of the files available to readers.


    It also seems that ADA responded to the defamation claim yesterday. This case is very important and can decide journals editorial freedom in the future. If ADA lose it, it will be a disaster for journals who want to retract flawed papers. Diabetes will make his final decision regarding the articles soon, but now it is also essential to show editorial power against this kind of threat.

  2. Contrary to US, motion reconsideration is an usual step in brazilians courts. The movement may sound strange to americans, but is very common here in Brazil. Restraining speech orders are also often. Thus, if you want to follow brazilian rules, I suggest to the authors to publish in brazilian journals instead of an american journal.

  3. Good point that reminds of the different context in which science operates. There are huge political forces in Brazilian government universities like UNICAMP – hard to get to the top without a strong power base and an attitude that you can fight off any challenge, if necessary with a team of lawyers.

    But this is also a disastrous attitude for a scientist.

    Speaking of Brazilian journals, the journal ‘Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz’ used to be quite a good journal (mostly infectious disease I think).

    It is nicknamed locally as the ‘Amnesias’ – ‘the Forgettings’. It might have been better for Saad (and the world) if indeed he had published his papers there.

  4. Scrutineer desires to issue an Expression of Concern regarding

    Picardi PK1, Calegari VC, Prada PO, Moraes JC, Araújo E, Marcondes MC, Ueno M, Carvalheira JB, Velloso LA, Saad MJ. Reduction of hypothalamic protein tyrosine phosphatase improves insulin and leptin resistance in diet-induced obese rats.
    Endocrinology. 2008 Aug;149(8):3870-80.
    PMID: 18467448

    Figure 4


    Over at PubPeer, it has also been suggested that Figure 3 might be worth a peep


  5. “What about contact Endocrinology editor’s?”

    Me not. But PubPeer might have alerted ’em a couple of months ago when an issue with Fig. 3 was first posted. After that, either they have eyes to see or they don’t.

    Speaking of concerns, take a look at Fig. 3. Here is my provisional take


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