WASHINGTON — A Nobel Peace Prize winner and Penn State University climate science professor has sued a Washington-based think tank and a national magazine that called his scientific findings fraudulent and compared him to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of numerous counts of child molestation.
In a 37-page complaint filed Monday in D.C. Superior Court, Michael Mann and his attorney John B. Williams, charged the National Review and the Capitol Hill-based Competitive Enterprise Institute with six counts including libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit is based on a July 13 article by Rand Simberg, published on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s blog, titled “The Other Scandal in Unhappy Valley.” It followed an investigation, released this summer, that said some Penn State officials knew of Sandusky’s sexual abuse of minors before he was arrested and chose not to report them to authorities.
The article compared Sandusky to Mann, accusing the the scientist of “molesting data” about global warming. It was later summarized and linked to by the National Review; in that piece, National Review writer Mark Steyn says, “Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr. Simberg does, but he has a point.”
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has since removed the sentences comparing Mann to Sandusky. An editor’s note says two lines were removed.
The lawsuit says the statements in the article were made with “actual malice and wrongful and willful intent to injure Dr. Mann.”
In 2007, Mann was among those who won the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute, an advocacy organization, has been an outspoken critic of climate change research.
Mann is suing for compensatory and punitive damages. No dollar amount was specified in the lawsuit, which was first reported Tuesday on Twitter by the National Law Journal. A hearing in the case was scheduled for January.
The lawsuit also names Simberg, an adjunct scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the National Review’s Steyn.
Competitive Enterprise Institute attorney Sam Kazman said he doesn’t believe the lawsuit was based in “either law or fact.” Kazman his website later removed two lines from the story that compared Mann to Sandusky, but refused to retract any parts of the story that challenged Mann’s scientific work.
Kazman also questioned the timing of the lawsuit, which was filed a day before PBS’ “Frontline” episode on climate change.