What started out as an academic dispute between two scientists over the validity of experiments on chemical compounds known as free radicals has escalated into a $165,000 lawsuit.
Last week Gerald M. Rosen, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Maryland's Pharmacy School, filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court against Carmen M. Arroyo; Alasdair J. Carmichael, her husband; Patricia Meisol, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun; and The Baltimore Sun. In the suit, Dr. Rosen accused Dr. Arroyo of engaging "in a campaign to discredit Dr. Rosen" and said she "did act . . . with ill will, spite and vindictiveness."
Dr. Rosen accused Dr. Arroyo of improperly obtaining his scientific papers, research notebooks and a grant renewal application and using them to lodge a charge of scientific misconduct with the Office of Scientific Integrity at the National Institutes of Health and with the University of Maryland.
"I didn't think this dispute should be taken to court," Dr. Arroyo said. "However, I am at peace and I am very tranquil because what I said and reported to the OSI officers is true. I am strongly convinced that I am right in what I am saying."
Dr. Rosen's suit said that Dr. Arroyo's allegations of fabricating data, misrepresenting the status of research papers and grant applications, and plagiarizing scientific findings and ideas have damaged his professional reputation and resulted in his "fear and anxiety that his many years of honest, hard work would be destroyed."
Dr. Rosen also alleged in his suit that Dr. Arroyo's husband helped his wife send letters to other scientists that harmed Dr. Rosen's reputation in the scientific community.
The suit accused Ms. Meisol and The Baltimore Sun of receiving confidential papers and then damaging Dr. Rosen's reputation by contacting colleagues of his and making inquiries about Dr. Arroyo's allegations.
Ms. Meisol "did invade [Dr. Rosen's] privacy and attempt to cast him in a false light, and did combine, conspire and otherwise act in concert with Carmen Arroyo," the suit alleged.
Most suits against newspapers are filed after a story has appeared in print, but Dr. Rosen's suit is a rare instance in which the suit has been filed before anything has appeared in print.