University of Michigan apologizes, settles lawsuit with dismissed professor for $550,000
The University of Michigan will pay $550,000 to settle a civil lawsuit brought by Andrei Borisov, a dismissed U-M professor who sued the university, alleging fraud, defamation and false imprisonment, according to a settlement agreement obtained today by AnnArbor.com.
The agreement settles an expensive, years-long string of public disputes between U-M and Borisov.
A former non-tenured faculty member in U-M’s Department of Pediatrics, Borisov filed the civil lawsuit in August 2009 in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. In the suit, he alleged he gathered evidence between 2006 and 2008 that his mentor, Mark Russell, plagiarized his research in reports to federal funding agencies involving grants worth $1.7 million. Borisov's lawsuit also alleged that he was removed from projects without prior approval from the funding agencies. U-M denied his claims.
A police report states two campus officers were asked to be present at a Sept. 4, 2008, meeting on the third floor of the Medical Science Research Building, where Borisov worked in the department of pediatrics. At the meeting, the lawsuit says, he turned in a resignation letter after being told that his superiors perceived his behavior as threatening.
Police said a confrontation ensued as Borisov cleared out his office under their watch. Borisov was charged with two counts of attempted resisting or obstructing a police officer and one count of disturbing the peace. Those charges were dropped in April 2009.
The university then banned the professor from campus for life — even as he anticipated that a new position in another department was his. The offer for the other position was withdrawn. Nine months after the confrontation, police modified the ban so that Borisov, an Ann Arbor resident, was only excluded form some buildings on the medical campus.
That ban stuck until the April 15, 2011, settlement agreement asked police to resolve the matter within five days.
U-M’s decade-old policy banning certain people from campus is under review after criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the U-M ACLU. The organizations allege that the policy is unconstitutional, saying it lacks due process and can be used to chill free speech. Changes are expected this month.
Separately, Borisov filed a grievance with the U-M Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee in April 2010. A report released by the committee in May recommended the university make changes to avoid similar incidents in the future. They include: keeping DPS officers outside of a meeting with an employee in a similar circumstance and giving officers proper instructions on how long an employee has to clean out his or her office. The committee report states Borisov had 20 minutes to clear out his office.
Under the eight-page settlement agreement obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, almost $200,000 will go to Borisov’s attorney, and the rest will go to Borisov. U-M also agreed to remove negative reviews in the professor’s file and the “do not rehire” marker within his personnel record. U-M will return the professor's lab equipment and samples.
The agreement prompted U-M to post a public apology on its website April 22 calling events involving Borisov and U-M “unfortunate and unintended.”
“The University regrets any incorrect information published about these events that harmed Dr. Borisov’s reputation,” it states.