Cha sues over IVF critique

Bruce Flamm, a doctor and former research chairman is being sued for defamation by Kwang Yul Cha, the co-author of a 2001 paper that showed couples who were prayed for (but didn't know it) were more likely to conceive during in vitro fertilization. Flamm has linkurl:publicly criticized the paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15149/ for years, arguing it was too implausible to be believed. The lawsuit was a complete surprise, Flamm told me today. "I never would have dream

By | October 9, 2007

Bruce Flamm, a doctor and former research chairman is being sued for defamation by Kwang Yul Cha, the co-author of a 2001 paper that showed couples who were prayed for (but didn't know it) were more likely to conceive during in vitro fertilization. Flamm has linkurl:publicly criticized the paper;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15149/ for years, arguing it was too implausible to be believed. The lawsuit was a complete surprise, Flamm told me today. "I never would have dreamed that, years [after criticizing the paper], this would potentially end up in a jury trial," he said. "To me, it's always been linkurl:a scientific;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22226/ issue, not a personal issue. I've never met Dr. Cha." He had expected his comments to fuel a debate, and feed science's "self-correcting system," Flamm added. "As a research chairman and residency director this is what I have taught young doctors for twenty years. " He said that his lawyer is hopeful the issue can be resolved quickly, but it hasn't stopped his wife from "crying herself to sleep" and fearing they will lose their life savings. "This is a nightmare. " This isn"t the first lawsuit Cha has brought against a researcher. This spring, he allegedly threatened the editor of Fertility & Sterility with legal action after the editor accused Cha and his co-authors of plagiarizing a F&S paper. The editor, Alan DeCherney, linkurl:subsequently retracted comments;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53275/ he made to me and the Los Angeles Times. In his critiques of the prayer-IVF paper, Flamm, based at Kaiser Permanente, noted that it employed a confusing methodology, which required different tiers of prayer groups asking for different outcomes, rather than a simple prayer/no-prayer design. In addition, none of the IVF couples provided informed consent. Last author Rogerio Lobo at Columbia removed his name from the author list, and another co-author, Daniel Wirth, was sent to jail after pleading guilty to a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud. Last summer, the Journal of Reproductive Medicine withdrew the study from its Web site. Flamm said that the last couple of years have done nothing to convince him that the research is valid. "It's clear that paper can"t be real," he said. "In my opinion, this lawsuit is an attack on both scientific peer-review and freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment." A PR firm representing Cha did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Comments

Avatar of: Anthony Glassman

Anthony Glassman

Posts: 5

October 16, 2007

Apparently, Alison McCook wrote her article about the defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Kwang Yul Cha without reading the lawsuit. She based the article on a telephone interview with Dr. Bruce Flamm, the very person charged in the lawsuit with making a false and defamatory statement.\n\nWhat Ms. McCook did not tell her readers is that the lawsuit is narrowly focused on Dr. Flamm?s article in the March/April 2007 edition of OB/GYN News in which he wrote: ?This may be the first time in history that all three authors of a randomized, controlled study have been found guilty of fraud, deception and/or plagiarism.?\n\nIn fact, Dr. Cha has never been found guilty of fraud, deception and/or plagiarism. He has never been accused of fraud, deception and/or plagiarism by any law enforcement agency or professional disciplinary body.\n\nThe complaint filed August 31, 2007 in Los Angeles Superior Court states: ?Dr. Flamm knew at the time of the publication of the 2007 Article that Dr. Cha has never been found guilty of fraud, deception and/or plagiarism. Therefore, the Offending Statement was made with knowledge of its falsity and/or reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity. Thus Dr. Flamm acted willfully, maliciously and with the intent to injure Dr. Cha and destroy his reputation??\n\nContrary to Dr. Flamm?s comments to The Scientist, the study "Does Prayer Influence the Success of In Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer?" which was published in the September 2001 issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, has nothing to do with the lawsuit except to serve as background on what motivated Dr. Flamm?s offending statement.\n\nThe lawsuit complaint states that Dr. Flamm ?began his crusade against Dr. Cha shortly after the 2001 Paper was published, and has continued it with a fanaticism bordering on obsession.?\n\nWhile not relevant to the lawsuit, it should be noted that Dr. Cha has publicly addressed the controversy over "Does Prayer Influence the Success of In Vitro Fertilization-Embryo Transfer?" When the study was published in 2001, the authors acknowledged the results seem incredible and said unknown biological factors may have played a role. "We are putting the results out there hoping to provoke discussion and see if anything can be learned from it.?\n\nIt should also be noted that the Journal of Reproductive Medicine has not retracted the paper. Dr. Lawrence Devoe, the journal's editor-in-chief, has stated publicly "?in principle, if the study was done with the proper passage of study components through an IRB (Institutional Review Board), which there was in this case, and the data were properly analyzed, submitted, and reviewed ... there would be no reason to retract the article."\n-- Anthony Glassman, Attorney for Dr. Kwang Yul Cha
Avatar of: Tony Knight

Tony Knight

Posts: 5

October 17, 2007

The previous comment was attributed in error to Anthony Glassman, attorney for Dr. Kwang Yul Cha. It should have been attributed to Tony Knight, spokesman for Dr. Cha.\nThe statement was posted by me on behalf of Dr. Cha. Regretably, I erred in attributing it to Mr. Glassman due to a miscommunication.\nNevertheless, the statement on behalf of Dr. Cha stands as written.

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