City Desk

Embattled GWU Lead Researcher Lawyers Up

The name of Tee Guidotti, the George Washington University health professor who penned a 2007 study on waterborne lead in the District, has been dragged through the mud in recent weeks, and the professor has now hired a top litigator to help clean it up again.

The controversy originated in articles by Environmental Science and Technology and the Washington Post holding that Guidotti had an undisclosed contractual obligation to the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to allow the utility to approve his study's results, a serious ethical violation. Guidotti's study found "no identifiable public health impact" from waterborne lead—a conclusion that came under fire this year when another team of researchers contradicted that finding.

Guidotti holds that the agreement with WASA required no such approvals. He had denied the charges personally in an e-mail to LL, who had linked and commented on the stories about the study. And now he has retained Elizabeth G. Taylor, partner at high-stakes litigation boutique Zuckerman Spaeder, to press efforts to clear his name.

Taylor, in an interview, says she is currently in talks with Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal that printed Guidotti's original study, in order to clarify his relationship with WASA. The essential issue, she says, is that WASA exterted no influence over Guidotti's study. "The facts are they didn't have the authority to do it," she says, "and they didn't do it." Taylor says she expects to present evidence to the journal clearing Guidotti next month.

Then there's the matter of the Post, which referred to Guidotti as a "paid consultant" to WASA in an A1 story by Carol D. Leonnig. Taylor says once things are resolved with the journal, she hopes the newspaper will also clear the air regarding her clients relationship with WASA. "We are in touch with the Post, and they have been responsive with us," Taylor says. "They want to get the facts straight as much as we do."

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