Description: Action brought by scientist against journal and another scientist in connection with publication of article critiquing plaintiff-scientist's work.
Jacobson v. National Academy of Sciences
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/22/2018 Notice of Voluntary Dismissal Download Plaintiff filed voluntary dismissal without prejudice. Stanford Professor Withdrew Defamation Lawsuit Against Author and Publisher of Article That Critiqued Professor’s Article. Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson withdrew his lawsuit against the lead author and publisher of an article that critiqued an article by Jacobson and others on grid reliability and renewable energy. Jacobson’s lawsuit asserted defamation, breach of contract, and promissory estoppel claims. On the day he withdrew the lawsuit, Jacobson released a statement on “Questions and Answers Concerning the Lawsuit Around The Paper PNAS 114, 6722-6727 (2017) (hereinafter C17)” in which he said he withdrew the lawsuit because of the time it would take to prosecute it and because he felt he had succeeded in bringing some of the defendant author’s allegedly false claims to light “so that at least some people reading C17 will be aware of the factually inaccurate statements.” 02/22/2018 Press Release Download "Questions and Answers Concerning the Lawsuit" posted by the plaintiff. 09/29/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Stanford Professor Sued Scientific Journal and Article Authors Who Critiqued His Work. Mark Jacobson (a professor at Stanford) sued Christopher Clack (founder and CEO of Vibrant Clean Energy, LLC) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging defamation, breach of contract, and promissory estoppel claims in connection with the publication of an article by Clack and other co-authors that critiqued an article published by Jacobson. In December 2015, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published an article by Jacobson and co-authors, “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes.” In June 2016, Clack and co-authors submitted a critique of the Jacobson article to PNAS, which PNAS shared with Jacobson in February 2017 when the journal asked if he would like to submit a letter to the editor commenting on the Clack article. Jacobson alleged that he informed PNAS that the Clack article contained “thirty false statements and five materially misleading statements,” and that he repeatedly complained to NAS and asked for corrections. He contended that when PNAS published a slightly revised version of the Clack article in June 2017, it corrected almost none of the statements that Jacobson said were false and misleading. The disputes concerned various modeling procedures and assumptions, issues concerning the amount of hydropower that would be available, and other technical matters. The complaint alleged that the Clack article received extensive press coverage and that “[t]he resulting headlines and articles made Dr. Jacobson and his co-authors look like poor, sloppy, incompetent, and clueless researchers.” Jacobson asserted that the Clack article did not disclose alleged conflicts of interest of some of Clack’s co-authors, including that one is associated with a nuclear advocacy organization and another has received funding from Exxon and various other fossil fuel companies. Jacobson also asserted that NAS violated its own publication policies in numerous ways and that only three of the 21 listed co-authors actually worked on the Clack article, artificially inflating its credibility. The complaint asserted defamation claims against both Clack and NAS and also asserted breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims against NAS for publishing Jacobson’s initial article and then not adhering to its publication policies in the way it handled the Clack article. Jacobson demanded damages from Clack and NAS “to be determined at trial believed to be in excess of Ten Million Dollars,” plus punitive damages and attorneys fees.