Legal spat over prayer study ends

The ongoing linkurl:legal battle;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54035/ between a fertility researcher who published a controversial 2001 linkurl:study;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11584476&dopt=AbstractPlus linking in vitro fertilization success to prayer and University of California, Irvine professor Bruce Flamm, who has been openly critical of that study, appears to be over for now. Los Angeles Superior Court judge James Dunn dismissed t

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Apr 20, 2008
The ongoing linkurl:legal battle;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54035/ between a fertility researcher who published a controversial 2001 linkurl:study;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11584476&dopt=AbstractPlus linking in vitro fertilization success to prayer and University of California, Irvine professor Bruce Flamm, who has been openly critical of that study, appears to be over for now. Los Angeles Superior Court judge James Dunn dismissed the linkurl:suit;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53709/ today (Apr 21) on the grounds that an linkurl:opinion piece;http://www.obgynnews.com/article/PIIS0029743707702021/fulltext that Flamm wrote in __Ob. Gyn. News__ was not defamatory, as the lawyers for the fertility researcher, linkurl:Kwang Yul Cha,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53166/ had claimed. "[Dunn] basically said the comments were factual when I made them," Flamm said, referring to statements he wrote about Cha and his coauthors in his March 2007 opinion piece. Flamm said that he and his wife received the judge's decision with a "great sigh of relief" today in court. "It's been a real nightmare," Flamm said of the lengthy legal battle. The judge linkurl:threw out;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53876/...
nkurl:study;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11584476&dopt=AbstractPlus linking in vitro fertilization success to prayer and University of California, Irvine professor Bruce Flamm, who has been openly critical of that study, appears to be over for now. Los Angeles Superior Court judge James Dunn dismissed the linkurl:suit;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53709/ today (Apr 21) on the grounds that an linkurl:opinion piece;http://www.obgynnews.com/article/PIIS0029743707702021/fulltext that Flamm wrote in __Ob. Gyn. News__ was not defamatory, as the lawyers for the fertility researcher, linkurl:Kwang Yul Cha,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53166/ had claimed. "[Dunn] basically said the comments were factual when I made them," Flamm said, referring to statements he wrote about Cha and his coauthors in his March 2007 opinion piece. Flamm said that he and his wife received the judge's decision with a "great sigh of relief" today in court. "It's been a real nightmare," Flamm said of the lengthy legal battle. The judge linkurl:threw out;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53876/ the suit last November, but linkurl:reversed;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54217/ that decision in January. According to Flamm, this dismissal is definitive, and the case will only continue if Cha decides to appeal the decision. Cha's legal team has 60 days to file an appeal. "My wife and I will be waking up everyday hoping we don't get that letter," Flamm said. Neither Cha's lawyer nor his spokesperson replied to a request for comment before this blog was posted. Even if the case is finally over, it has curtailed Flamm's critique of Cha's work, and may cast a shadow on the peer review process in general, said Flamm. "I wouldn't be honest if I say that this didn't scare me," Flamm said. "Is it going to chill my criticism? At this point, I don't plan on writing any more articles on [Cha's study], so perhaps it is." Dunn, in a document that Flamm faxed to __The Scientist__, quoted defense lawyers in the case, writing that "lawsuits such as this one can chill the exercise of free speech and healthy debate within the medical peer review system." "I think that's true whether I win or lose," added Flamm.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?