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Posted on Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 5:58 a.m.

Former University of Michigan faculty member sues for fraud, defamation

By Juliana Keeping

A University of Michigan professor who was fired following a feud over research plagiarism and grant money is now suing several former colleagues.

Andrei Borisov, a former non-tenured research assistant professor in the U-M Medical School Department of Pediatrics, claims defamation, fraud and false imprisonment in his lawsuit.

Borisov is suing several former U-M colleagues over the events that led to his firing in September 2008.

Defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court in August, include Mark Russell, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases; Valerie Castle, M.D., chair of pediatrics and communicable diseases; Margaret Gyetko, M.D., professor of internal medicine and U-M Medical School associate dean; and Jeffery Frumkin, associate vice provost and senior director of academic resources.

"The University of Michigan will not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, however, our attorneys will vigorously defend these university employees against all allegations," U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in response to the suit.

Borisov was acquitted in April of criminal charges stemming from a confrontation with two campus police officers as he cleaned out his office last year. He had been charged with two counts of attempted resisting or obstructing a police officer and one count of disturbing the peace.

According to the civil lawsuit, Borisov and Russell worked together to earn $1.7 million in research grants - work that led to promotions for each.

Russell gained tenure, while Borisov was promoted as a non-tenured faculty member. The lawsuit alleges that Russell began to pass Borisov's publications as his own in progress reports to the funding agencies that awarded the grants. The suit also accuses Russell of reducing the amount of grant money Borisov was entitled to without prior approval from the agencies.

After Borisov assembled a packet of evidence that he said spelled out scientific misconduct, plagiarism and false reporting to funding agencies - including the National Institutes of Health - he was removed from the grant project. He said in the lawsuit that he also was downgraded in performance reports and told his contract would not be renewed due to his poor record at obtaining independent grants. Borisov conducted the majority of the work to earn the grants, the lawsuit charges.

In the meantime, Borisov was accepted to transfer to a new position another department. The lawsuit says he turned in a resignation letter a week before the new position was to begin at a meeting with two campus police officers and Castle, the department chair. 

The lawsuit states Castle led police to believe Borisov threatened physical harm to Russell and other faculty and staff, a charge Borisov denies. After he turned in his letter, police escorted Borisov to his office, and a confrontation ensued over whether Borisov could take  his research materials and manuscripts with him without third-party review. The lawsuit says the police officers told Borisov he was under arrest for trespassing.

DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said at the time that Borisov escalated the situation after officers gave him many chances to cooperate. He was later acquitted of the criminal charges.

According to the lawsuit, Borisov was treated for injuries he sustained during the arrest at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and shortly after his arrest, he was told via letter that his new job offer had been withdrawn.

Borisov is suing Russell for defamation, interference with contract and fraud; Castle for defamation; and Castle, Gyetko and Frumkin for assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. 

The lawsuit says he's seeking attorneys fees and other relief exceeding $25,000, to be decided by the court.

Calls to Borisov's attorney were not returned.

Juliana Keeping covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter


giannis georgiopoulos

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

and borisov won.... for every borisov there are 100 who do not sue but just leave head down, I was one of them, because naturally you want the thing to go away I had personal run ins with the "officer" in the lawsuit when working for the u of m in a similar situation these so called officers are nothing but bouncers in my case they scared me into signing what they wanted and they lied to get it there is an inherent conflict of interest the uofm police works for the university so when the university's interests are threatened they will not act as impartial police but as university bouncers and they can slap anything against you and is your word against theirs can you imagine how scary that can be? go try proving it.... in a way it is like a fascist regime


Sat, Oct 3, 2009 : 6:16 p.m.

I don't believe a department chair is a neutral party in such a case. Unfortunately the court system is the place for situations such as this. And perhaps NIH should do its own audit.


Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 8:20 p.m.

It has become too easy for the chairman or dean to make up false allegations that a faculty, student or staff has made threats. The campus police perform no investigation and act as bouncers, not professional police officers. This has happened repeatedly at U of M.


Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.

Who knows who is actually being truthful in this situation. Lets reserve judgement till the Court decides who is at fault.


Thu, Oct 1, 2009 : 7:45 a.m.

One of the reasons why each UM department needs a top-notch non-faculty key administrator.