Yesterday, November 23rd 2017, I travelled 600 km to Berlin to stand my second injunction trial, instigated by Philipp Jungebluth, former student and acolyte of the scandal surgeon. The first injunction was achieved by Jungebluth based on his claim to be world-famous, renowned researcher and clinician, who helped save the lives of patients like Andemariam Beyene and Hannah Warren with plastic tracheas and published about this in The Lancet (a paper which is now up for retraction due to his and Macchiarini’s proven misconduct). The second injunction was pushed against my article about an unpublished manuscript of Macchiarini’s and Jungebluth’s, from which I have quoted and interpreted with reference to the quotes. That injunction was founded now on the opposite: Jungebluth denies to have had anything at all to do with any of Macchiarini’s trachea transplants, aside of a very general academic, but never ever any clinical, contribution.
The hearing yesterday was a proper farce. It began with the judge asking Jungebluth’s lawyer why he didn’t forbid me to say his client had anything at all to do with Claudia Castillo’s transplant as well (read more here, also about Jungebluth’s role). The court and indicated it would be more than happy to oblige Jungebluth and his lawyer if they were interested. Soon it became rather obvious that the main judge and his two colleagues have never read my English-language article before passing the injunction against it, that they are more confident in their knowledge of English language than they should be, and that they have no understanding whatsoever on the practices of how a biomedical research paper is written. Yet they believe that their power position allows them to make such decisions and disperse punishments nevertheless.
The main issue was the authors’ contributions statement “P.J. assisted in clinical transplantations and preclinical experiments and helped to write the report” which went with the unpublished manuscript describing 9 cadaveric trachea transplants in human patients and some rat experiments. Jungebluth and his lawyer never denied the existence of that manuscript or my quotes from it. But now guess how the judges understood the statement “P.J. assisted in clinical transplantations“?
The Berlin court educated me that this only means that Jungebluth assisted with some clinical transplantation somewhere completely different, in a different time and space, and the statement has no connection whatsoever to the nine patients described in this manuscript. To the judges, the declaration of authors’ contributions was a kind of general description of professional interests. After I explained to court the standard practice with academic papers, and that listed author contributions always refer only to the experiments in the paper and nothing else, I noticed that the judges became visibly queasy that they might have passed an injunction against my reporting unjustly. The judge asked me: “Why didn’t you put this in writing in your objection letter?” To which I answered that it seemed completely self-explanatory that a statement of authors’ contributions can only refer to the content of the paper at hand, and not to their general activities elsewhere.
But who wants to admit being wrong and lose face? Hence the presiding judge educated me that even if this was true, it doesn’t mean that Jungebluth was aware of that declaration, namely that he is said to have “assisted in clinical transplantations”. The judge even said, the statement that Jungebluth “helped to write the report” proved nothing in this regard, as he may have only casually read it.
And in any case, the judge said, the manuscript and the video I presented as evidence in my injunction-stricken article prove nothing, and are not even a real evidence, because Jungebluth says it is not true. Seriously. Jungebluth’s evidence was his word alone, and nothing else. In fact, this is not the first time I experienced such a legal farce about academic matters. A Würzburg judge decided in his original injunction on behalf of Heike and Thorsten Walles that Macchiarini’s first, last and corresponding authorships can never imply any intellectual contribution from Macchiarini’s side to the research and technology presented in his own papers. In fact, same judge very recently officially threatened me by court verdict to better believe this whole-heartedly, or he will bankrupt my family and put me in jail afterwards.
Back to Jungebluth case. Another incredible bit in the Berlin hearing yesterday was the issue of the English translation. The original title of my article “Unpublished Macchiarini manuscript confirms 5 forgotten trachea transplant patients” used to be a bit longer, I obviously cannot tell you what it was without facing quarter a million Euro fine and jail. The injunction was passed without any certified translation submitted. After my lawyer and I challenged it, Jungebluth provided one afterwards. The German certified translation of the first part, re-translated, was: “Unpublished Macchiarini manuscript confirms 5 unknown trachea transplants“. See if you spot the difference. The second bit was also wrong, and we submitted our own certified translation to prove it, but the judge declared in the hearing that he prefers Jungebluth’s version. So, by a decree of the Landgericht Court in Berlin, the English word “patients” is to be deleted from all dictionaries as non-existent, and the word “forgotten” does not etymologically derive from “to forget”, but from “not to know”. And so on, there were other examples. I shall warn Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries of this legal decision, to save them the trouble of facing court in Berlin.
Knowing what to expect as upcoming decision, my lawyer and I announced to aim for a proper court trial, (injunctions are so called speed-trials, where judge decides not on evidence, but on the subjective credibility of the opponents). This proper trial, where evidence and witnesses must be presented, is expensive, I hope you can continue donating (more info here).
Update 30.11.2017. The Berlin court now announced its decision to uphold the injunction in full, and ordered me to pay the full court costs. By the power of German state, the ridiculous English mistranslation above is pronounced as correct, and authors’ contributions on academic publications are forbidden to be ever considered as authors’ contributions. The law has spoken, but we will go into appeal, and above. Please donate!
If you are interested to support my work, you can leave here a small tip of $5. Or several of small tips, just increase the amount as you like (2x=€10; 5x=€25). Your generous patronage of my journalism, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my legal costs.