Michael Joyner, MD, has filed a lawsuit against Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic for allegedly violating his protected speech following his suspension after publicly criticizing the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Joyner is a professor of anesthesiology at Mayo's College of Medicine and Science and served as the principal investigator on the U.S. Expanded Access Program for Convalescent Plasma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nov. 13 lawsuit alleges that Mayo Clinic retaliated against him between 2020 and 2023 for comments made during interviews with CNN and The New York Times and fabricated reports of problematic behavior that it used to justify firing him in 2023.
Dr. Joyner has had multiple groups write letters in support of him, including the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, the Academic Freedom Alliance and over 30 professors from Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University, New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University, New York City-based Columbia University and other institutions.
Meanwhile, a Mayo Clinic spokesperson said Dr. Joyner's claims are unfounded in a statement provided to Becker's.
"Dr. Joyner's lawsuit is yet another manifestation of his refusal to recognize or accept responsibility for his inappropriate behaviors," the statement said. "Mayo intends to show that in 2020 … Dr. Joyner gave Mayo an ultimatum, demanding that Mayo agree to give him a seven-figure payment within 48 hours. At the same time, he was found to have consistently engaged in rude and disrespectful communications toward co-workers and outside partners. Dr. Joyner alleged that his discipline was retaliation, similar to the retaliation claims in his lawsuit. Mayo hired an outside attorney to investigate these concerns. The attorney, who is now a federal judge, found there was no retaliation and that Dr. Joyner had engaged in a pattern of asserting inflammatory allegations grounded almost entirely in speculation."