Legal threats once again force corrections over a scale measuring medication usage

Donald Morisky

A journal is warning contributors that they should avoid using a controversial scale for assessing adherence to medication regimens or they might wind up wearing an omelette on their faces.

The chicken here, of course, is the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. The instrument was developed by a UCLA professor named Donald Morisky, who with a colleague named Steve Trubow threatens to sue anyone who they believe misuses the tool after failing to obtain a license.

As we have detailed on this blog and in Science, many researchers report that Morisky and Trubow seem to set traps for them, ignoring their requests for a license then hammering them with demands for citations, money — often tens of thousands of dollars or more — or both once their work has been published. Failure to comply, the pair assert, could lead to a lawsuit. (Morisky sometimes fails to note his own financial conflict here, as he did in this 2017 paper in PLOS One touting the accuracy of his tool.) Continue reading Legal threats once again force corrections over a scale measuring medication usage

Stanford prof plans to drop $10m suit against PNAS and critic

Mark Jacobson

A professor who is suing a journal publisher and critic for defamation has announced he plans to drop the case.

Yesterday, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson announced on Twitter that he plans to “voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit” he filed last year in the District of Columbia, in which he alleged he was defamed when the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper critical of his research on the future of renewable energy. Continue reading Stanford prof plans to drop $10m suit against PNAS and critic

Journal retracts note of concern after court settles authorship dispute

A journal has retracted a warning posted to a paper involved in an authorship dispute, after the issue was resolved in a court case.

In an editorial published Jan. 10, editors at the journal Molecules wrote that they were removing the expression of concern for “Helleborus purpurascens—Amino Acid and Peptide Analysis Linked to the Chemical and Antiproliferative Properties of the Extracted Compounds.”

The editors flagged the 2015 paper in June, 2016 after a researcher in Germany also claimed authorship. In the 2016 notice, the editors wrote:

Continue reading Journal retracts note of concern after court settles authorship dispute

Judge orders journal to identify peer reviewers: CrossFit lawyer

A court is reportedly telling a journal to unmask a retracted paper’s peer reviewers, part of a defamation lawsuit involving the journal’s publisher and the CrossFit exercise brand.

According to an attorney representing CrossFit, yesterday Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the San Diego Superior Court decided that the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) must turn over to CrossFit the names of peer reviewers of “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition,” by Jan. 26. The names will be revealed under a protective order, the lawyer said, meaning CrossFit and the other defendants will see them but cannot disclose them to others.

Continue reading Judge orders journal to identify peer reviewers: CrossFit lawyer

CrossFit asks court to unmask peer reviewers of retracted study

Another front has opened up in the legal battle between the CrossFit exercise brand and a competitor, spurred by a now-retracted paper about the risk of injury from the workout program. Soon, a judge will decide whether CrossFit is entitled to learn the names of the study’s peer reviewers.

CrossFit has tried and failed to identify them before. If they’re successful now, it could help establish a new way to legally breach reviewer confidentiality; two outside lawyers we consulted said they’d never before seen a court order a journal to reveal an article’s peer reviewers.

On Jan. 18, Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the Superior Court of the State of California in San Diego is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether or not the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) should be compelled to unmask the reviewers for “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition.”

The article was published in 2013 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR), the official research publication of the NSCA, and was retracted last year. It’s referred to as the “Devor article” in the court documents, after last author Steven Devor, a former professor at The Ohio State University (OSU).

A “discovery referee” assigned to the defamation case recently ordered NSCA to provide CrossFit with the reviewers’ names, but NSCA is challenging those rulings, saying that they have the same right to protect their sources as journalists do.

Continue reading CrossFit asks court to unmask peer reviewers of retracted study

Ever been asked to remove a reference for libel concerns? These authors have

Last month, Nature Ecology & Evolution published a series of responses to a previous article recommending essential reading for all ecologists. In one response, the authors argue that the list is highly biased in favor of white male authors, and raises the problem of bullying and harassment in academia. But the letter is missing one key reference from its original submission: To a recent news story in Science reporting “disturbing” sexual harassment allegations against a prominent field researcher.

Why is the reference missing?

Because the editor at Nature Ecology & Evolution asked the authors to take it out, citing concerns about libel.

Here’s the note the authors received on their original submission:

Continue reading Ever been asked to remove a reference for libel concerns? These authors have

Caught Our Notice: Using this research tool? You’d better ask first

Via Wikimedia

Title: Patient Education After CABG: Are We Teaching the Wrong Information?

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve written about the controversy surrounding a commonly used tool to measure whether patients are sticking to their drug regimen, known as the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). It can cost thousands of dollars — and using it without payment/permission earns researchers a call from a collector, who has used legal threats to compel multiple teams to withdraw their papers (a phenomenon we wrote about in Science). The creator of the tool argues it’s copyrighted, and demanding fees ensures researchers use it properly, which avoids putting patients at risk. We’ve found a notice (paywalled, tsk-tsk) that reveals another group of authors used the tool without permission and, according to the notice, “incorrectly.”

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Using this research tool? You’d better ask first

Author wins judgment against Elsevier in lawsuit over retraction

The author of a 2009 commentary exploring “sexually specific infanticide” in bears has won a judgment against Elsevier for using “untruthful and unverified” language in a 2011 retraction notice.

The last author, Miguel Delibes, who filed the suit in 2014, explained that the judge ruled he should accept the journal’s decision to retract his paper, but “confirmed that my honorability had been damaged” by the false accusation in the original retraction notice. According to a new note on the paper from the publisher, the court required the journal to publish part of its ruling to correct the record. Continue reading Author wins judgment against Elsevier in lawsuit over retraction

Doctor with 9 retractions loses lawsuit over work as expert witness

Cory Toth

A Canadian doctor with nine retractions due to misconduct has lost a court case seeking payment for an expert medical exam he performed in August 2014. The exam took place several months after his university found he had allowed a breach of research integrity in his lab and a month before news of the investigation and his departure from the school made national news in Canada.

On Dec. 5, Cory Toth, a former professor at the University of Calgary (U of C), appeared in an Edmonton, Alberta courtroom as the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in Provincial Civil Court. The story was first reported by the Edmonton Journal.

Court documents, which we’ve made available here, show that in April 2016 Toth sued Western Medical Assessments (WMA) — the company that hired him to perform the exam, which was used in another case — and Michele Reeves — the lawyer who hired WMA. Toth alleged that he never received payment for his work and sought Can$2,000 (US$1,552) plus interest. In his claim, he said that despite the U of C finding: Continue reading Doctor with 9 retractions loses lawsuit over work as expert witness

US court denies virus researcher’s latest appeal challenging 7-year funding ban

Scott Brodie has almost run out of options.

A former professor at the University of Washington, Brodie is currently involved in his third lawsuit challenging a finding of scientific misconduct and a seven-year funding ban handed down in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity. He says that in the time since his case was heard by an administrative law judge at the ORI level, new evidence has come to light that shows he “did not have a ‘full and fair opportunity to litigate’ the issues.” His lawsuit sought a court order to have the ORI revisit its decision.

Last year, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the case, saying it revisited old issues that had already been litigated, but Brodie appealed that decision. Now, his quest may have come to an end: On Nov. 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed the appeal. If he wants to continue the case, Brodie’s only remaining option is to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the court order, the panel of three judges wrote:

Continue reading US court denies virus researcher’s latest appeal challenging 7-year funding ban