Friday, October 30, 2020

Harvard replies to Professor Lieber: not helping you out

Continuing news in the story of Professor Charles Lieber from the Harvard Crimson (by James S. Bikales and Kevin R. Chen): 

Harvard filed an opposition Thursday in response to Chemistry professor Charles M. Lieber’s lawsuit alleging the University is contractually obligated to pay for his legal defense against federal fraud charges. In its filing, Harvard’s lawyers argued Lieber relinquished his right to indemnification and advancement of defense costs when he knowingly lied to the University and the federal government about his activities in China.

...Harvard’s opposition to the motion, however, alleges Lieber intentionally lied to Harvard and federal authorities, precluding him from receiving indemnification under the policy.

“Employees who privilege their own interests over Harvard’s, whether by acting in bad faith, violating University policies, engaging in various forms of misconduct, or seeking an improper financial benefit, are not entitled to indemnification or, therefore, advancement,” Harvard’s opposition reads. “Lieber engaged in precisely the kind of self-dealing conduct that precludes advancement.”

“It cannot be the law that a professor can (i) mislead Harvard, (ii) allegedly lie to the United States, (iii) cause Harvard to make misstatements to the United States, (iv) get charged criminally, and then (v) insist that Harvard must advance his defense costs—regardless of his conduct—because the stakes in the criminal case are high,” the opposition concludes. “Any such holding would effectively compel Harvard, in violation of its policies and expectations of faculty conduct, to advance defense costs from its charitable assets to employees who engage in bad-faith conduct for the purpose of enriching themselves.”

Apart from the obvious (i.e. we’ve gotten to the point in the relationship between Professor Lieber and Harvard where it’s open conflict), I think it is interesting to note that Harvard is being clear that they feel Professor Lieber misled them. I’m still stumped as to why Professor Lieber did this, but perhaps we will learn this before long. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm guessing Harvard will have to make good on indemnifying Lieber. My understanding (from recent experience) with indemnification is that Harvard will have to pay CL's legal bills (I'm guessing his counsel charges >$1,000/h) but will be able to recoup should CL ultimately be found guilty (including appeals).


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