Via the Volokh Conspiracy: Jacobson Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Against Other Scientists
After an initial hearing, Stanford’s Mark Jacobson thinks better of pursuing a scientific disagreement in court.
Jonathan H. Adler
Last fall, Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson sued several researchers and the National Academy of Sciences over the publication of a paper critical of his work. According to Jacobson, the NAS decision to publish a peer-reviewed critique of one of his co-authored papers in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences“ was defamatory because the critique made what Jacobson asserted were false and misleading claims about his work in the process of dismissing his claim that 100 percent of the United States’ electricity needs may be met by renewable energy sources. (Additional background on the suit may be found here.)
Now it seems Jacobson has thought better about taking this dispute to court. Earlier this week, there was a court hearing on whether to dismiss the case. Here is one account of the proceedings (the only one I could find). [Note: Here’s a second account from EnergyWire (subscription required).]
Jacobson apparently had second thoughts after the hearing. Yesterday Jacobson voluntarily dismissed his suit.
Why did Jacobson change his mind? Here is the answer he provides in an FAQ document Jacobson posted on his website yesterday:
Q. Why did you dismiss the lawsuit on February 22, 2018?
A. It became clear, just like in the Mann case, which has been going on for 6 years, that it is possible there could be no end to this case for years, and both the time and cost would be enormous. Even if the motions for dismissal were defeated, the other side would appeal, and that alone would take 6-12 months if not more. Even if I won the appeal, that would be only the beginning. It would mean time-consuming discovery and depositions, followed by a trial. The result of the trial would likely be appealed, etc., etc.
The irony here is, Mann, the plaintiff, is the one who’s been dragging his feet. He doesn’t want to go to court, because he knows he will lose, and lose big, as I suspect Jacobsen finally realized. Mann’s lawsuit has always been about “the process is the punishment”, not winning.
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