publication date: Feb. 14, 2020

Thomas Sellers sues Moffitt, claims defamation

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

Thomas Sellers, former director of Moffitt Cancer Center, has filed  a lawsuit against his former institution, claiming defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship.

The suit, filed Feb. 13, also claims that Sellers’s former colleague Sheng Wei, who has also been forced to resign from Moffitt, had committed fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress on Sellers.

According to the complaint, Sellers was “unjustifiably forced to resign by Moffitt after it came to light that several Moffitt employees were involved in the Thousand Talents Program with China.”

Sellers was not a member of the Talents program, didn’t accept money from China, or perform research in China, the complaint states: “In fact, Sellers had been nominated for the Program, but he declined.”

The complaint is available here.

Sellers’s attorney, Brandon Scheele, said Moffitt “made a very irresponsible decision to remove anyone who even had the appearance of being involved in the Thousand Talents Program. In other words, they bombed the village to save the castle.” (The Cancer Letter, Jan. 24, 2020)

Sellers was forced to resign—along with president and CEO Alan List and another four Moffitt researchers—on Dec. 18, after an internal review concluded that they “violated conflict of interest rules through their work in China,” cancer center officials said (The Cancer Letter, Dec. 20, 2019).

The other four researchers are: Pearlie K. Epling-Burnette, Howard McLeod, Dan Sullivan, and Sheng Wei.

“Moffitt stands behind its findings from the investigation of Dr. Sellers and will vigorously defend any legal action filed against the cancer center,” … Continue reading Thomas Sellers sues Moffitt, claims defamation

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