A New York Times‘ article about Ohio State University cancer researcher Dr. Carlo Croce, published in March 2017, prompted Croce to sue the newspaper for defamation two months later.
This month, most of the original lawsuit was dismissed. Interestingly, the one claim Croce is still able to pursue in court has nothing to do with what was published in the newspaper. Rather, it has to do with the Times‘ reporter’s contacts with Croce before publication, Courthouse News Service reported.
The Times‘ lengthy March 2017 article, “Years of Ethics Charges, but Star Cancer Researcher gets a Pass,” focused on allegations against Croce. Croce then sued the newspaper in May 2017, claiming the article defamed him.
However, U.S. District Judge James Graham ruled this November that “Put in context, the article is an accurate and balanced report about Dr. Croce’s research, his critics, and his and Ohio State’s responses to the accusations against them.”
Judge Graham will still allow Croce to sue the New York Times for a sentence inside a letter written by its reporter James Glanz before publication that listed accusations. Why? Because that sentence “doesn’t ask for verification” but is a “declarative statement of fact.” The sentence in question reads:
“Dr. Croce reviewed and awarded countless grants using CTR money, often in cases with clear conflicts of interest involving grantees at his own institution (Thomas Jefferson University at the time).”
Courthouse News Service noted, “The statement does not appear in the Times article, only in the letter Glanz wrote to Croce and Ohio State University.” Courthouse News Service uploaded the Nov. 6 ruling.
iMediaEthics has written to the New York Times and Croce’s lawyer for their responses to the ruling.