Scientist awarded damages Ex-UM associate found to defame

June 04, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury last night exonerated Dr. Gerald M. Rosen of any professional wrongdoing and awarded him $75,001 damages against his former research associate, Dr. Carmen M. Arroyo.

The jury said Dr. Arroyo, 36, maliciously defamed Dr. Rosen with various statements and letters to colleagues alleging that he had engaged in a pattern of professional misconduct, including falsifying experiment data in grant applications and using her work without giving her credit.

Dr. Rosen is chairman of the pharmacology and toxicology department of the University of Maryland Pharmacy School, and Dr. Arroyo worked in his research lab.

With the consent of all lawyers, Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr. allowed the four alternate jurors to participate in the six hours of deliberation with the six regular jury members.

Forewoman Carolyn E. Thaler said jurors agreed not to comment on the deliberations.

The jury cleared Dr. Alasdair Carmichael, Dr. Arroyo's husband, of conspiring with her to injure Dr. Rosen's reputation.

In compensatory damages, the jury awarded Dr. Rosen $20,000 for defamation, $30,000 for invasion of privacy and $1 for conversion.

In the conversion charge, Dr. Rosen alleged that Dr. Arroyo had taken some of his experiment data from the laboratory, but there was no direct evidence testimony to confirm this. The jury also ordered $25,000 in punitive damages against Dr. Arroyo.

Both sides pointed out during trial that the case was not really about money. Dr. Rosen was asking damages totaling only $105,000. The case involved the scientist's professional reputation and standing in the scientific community in general and in particular in the field in which both he and Dr. Arroyo work.

Dr. Rosen and Dr. Arroyo are among a small group of scientists who work in the esoteric field of free radicals, fleeting compounds whose presence is recorded on a machine and which are thought to be important in the human disease process.

Dr. Arroyo's lawyers said they will appeal. Dr. Rosen's lawyer, Howard J. Schulman, said of his client: "This is the third time he has been vindicated and exonerated, by the Veterans Administration and by the University of Maryland."

Mr. Schulman said he will move now to block any further investigation by the university as ordered by the Office of Scientific Integrity of the National Institutes of Health.

A hearing was scheduled but was postponed because of the trial.

Mr. Schulman also attacked Dr. Garry R. Buettner of the FTC University of Iowa and Dr. Ronald P. Mason of the National Institute of Environmental Science in North Carolina for their part in pressing for further investigation after Dr. Rosen was cleared by the VA and university.

Both men are leaders in the field of the study of free radicals.

They testified for Dr. Arroyo and accused Dr. Rosen of misrepresenting data and using the same graphs to represent totally different experiments in published articles.

Mr. Schulman said the evidence showed that Dr. Mason was an "agent provocateur" by sending Dr. Arroyo an anonymous letter with information to help her formulate charges against Dr. Rosen and that "Dr. Buettner did his bidding."

"Their activities were outside the established guidelines and procedures of the University of Maryland and the Office of Scientific Integrity and both overstepped their bounds," Mr. Schulman said

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