Former University of Michigan faculty member sues for fraud, defamation
A University of Michigan professor who was fired following aÂ 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, claimsÂ 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, filedÂ in Washtenaw County Circuit Court in August, includeÂ 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.Â
The lawsuit states Castle led police to believe Borisov threatened physical harm to Russell and other faculty and staff, a chargeÂ Borisov denies. After he turned in his letter, police escorted Borisov to his office, and a confrontation ensued over whetherÂ BorisovÂ could take Â his research materials and manuscripts with him without third-party review. The lawsuit says the police officers toldÂ BorisovÂ 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.Â
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.