Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher at The Ohio State University who has faced numerous allegations of research misconduct, has filed a lawsuit against the New York Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him in a March 8 story.
Croce filed the civil suit May 10, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, naming as co-defendants Times reporters James Glanz and Agustin Armendariz, publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and executive editor Dean Baquet. According to court documents, he’s seeking damages in excess of $75,000. The Times lawsuit was first reported by Courthouse News in May, but it’s actually the second defamation suit Croce filed that we know of.
In April, we’ve recently learned, Croce filed a separate defamation lawsuit against David Sanders, a professor at Purdue University and a key source for the Times story. Croce is seeking damages from Sanders in excess of $75,000.
Croce’s lawyer, Thomas Hill, of Columbus, Ohio firm Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter, told Retraction Watch his client was fighting a “David and Goliath battle” against the Times:
We believe in justice and our client believes in justice so to the courts we turn for justice.
The New York Times wasn’t fair to him… You all portray him as if he’s crooked and he’s not.
The year has been a busy one for Croce. In addition to the profile in the Times, which scrutinized Croce’s behavior both before and after he came to OSU, Croce received an award from the American Association for Cancer Research. On Aug. 25, he notched his seventh retraction.
The Times article noted that Croce has been the subject of multiple investigations throughout his career. At least five of those inquiries from Ohio State cleared him of wrongdoing. Croce has denied any wrongdoing and told the Times that any mistakes were due to “honest error.”
The Times article said Ohio State “has decided to take a new look to determine whether it handled those cases properly.” Ohio State told Retraction Watch:
The Ohio State University takes allegations of research misconduct very seriously. As a result of concerns related to Dr. Carlo Croce, the university launched an independent review of our systems for ensuring research integrity. This review is still underway.
Ohio State added that it was aware of the lawsuits but was not involved in them:
…we were not consulted, are not involved and have no comment.
Papers on which Croce was middle author weren’t “Croce’s papers,” suit claims
Croce’s complaint filed against the Times called the article “riddled with venomous and defamatory falsehoods.” The complaint said the suit:
seeks to remedy those falsehoods, to prove the truth, and to restore Dr. Croce’s good name.
In one instance, Croce claimed that the Times had inflated its count of his papers that had been retracted, corrected, or given an editorial expression of concern:
Defendants include in this tally of “Dr. Croce’s papers” manuscripts reporting research that (a) did not take place in Dr. Croce’s lab or under his supervision, (b) do not contain any figures prepared by Dr. Croce or anyone under his supervision, (c) were not written by Dr. Croce or anyone under his supervision, and (d) for which he is identified only as a middle author….
Defendants falsely stated that papers on which Dr. Croce was only a middle author were “Dr. Croce’s papers.”
In July, the Times filed a motion to dismiss Croce’s lawsuit, saying:
Croce cannot state any plausible claim for relief.
Croce has in turn filed an 80-page response to the motion to dismiss. Both the complaint and the response claim that Croce is not a public figure. Generally, the law requires a different standard for proving defamation of a private figure than a public figure.
According to the complaint in the suit against Sanders:
Defendant Sanders falsely stated to Glanz … that “image fabrication, duplication and mishandling, and plagiarism in Dr. Croce’s papers is routine” and that Dr. Croce is “knowingly engaging in scientific misconduct and fraud.” These are factual statements that are verifiably false.
In a response filed to Croce’s complaint, Sanders has denied making false and defamatory statements.
The Times’ lawyer, Keith Schneider, of Columbus firm Maguire Schneider Hassay, was not available for comment. Sanders’ lawyer, Bill Nolan, of Barnes & Thornburg, has not yet responded to our request for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear anything.
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