Physician’s online harassment case is a warning to all internet users, particularly whistleblowers


A physician’s extraordinary legal battle is coming to a stunning close a recent court action suggests.

The physician is James Murtagh, M.D., a licensed, board certified medical doctor who graduated in the top four of his University of Michigan medical school class and held several responsible positions, including that of tenured associate professor at Emory University Medical School. Officers of the noprofit Whistleblower Support Fund made Dr. Murtagh a board member based on the character and determination he displayed under tremendous pressure. [Disclosure: This website is a project of the WSF.]

As described by investigative journalist Tom Nugent, Dr. Murtagh’s promising career began unraveling in 1999. That’s when he agreed to testify to federal investigators about alleged research-funding fraud at Emory University and its teaching hospital, Grady Memorial of Atlanta. Dr. Murtagh would spend the next twelve years fighting reprisals allegedly authorized by Emory officials before a court handed him a victory. Unfortunately, that did not end his struggles.

A new struggle began when Clark Baker, a private investigator and former LAPD officer sought control of Semmelweis Society International, whose members included Dr. Murtagh. After Murtagh opposed the takeover, the investigator posted webpages vilifying the doctor with “false” and “defamatory” claims, according to a complaint filed by the doctor on February 18, 2015. [See: James Murtagh, M.D. v. Clark Baker, individual; OFFICE OF MEDICAL & SCIENTIFIC JUSTICE, INC., a California corporation; DOES 1-10. Note: Baker is described as principal investigator, President, manager and CEO of OMSJ.]  In response, Dr. Murtagh asked the court for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction.

Dr. Murtagh’s signed declaration lays out a deeply disturbing picture of harassment.

Clark Baker has interfered in my life in profound and insidious ways – taunting me, stalking me, lying about me, invading my privacy (including my privileged communications), telling hospital personnel lies about me, damaging my reputation, altering my website, hacking into my email and sending me many emails which appear to be from other people…

Baker caused me to lose jobs, to frequently change jobs and to make my lifestyle transient. I have spent years on the run from Baker. I own no home and no traceable assets. Recently, I even changed my phone number and email account to evade him. I must be constantly vigilant about protecting my privacy because if Baker is able to locate me, I am at great risk of losing my livelihood. 

In the author’s direct observation, past and present public web accounts associated with Mr. Baker support Dr. Murtagh’s claims of persistent public harassment online.

Dr. Murtagh alleges that Baker and yet unnamed associates “explicitly expressed malice and malicious intent towards Dr. Murtagh in that Defendants have stated and written that Defendants want “to harm Dr. Murtagh,” “prevent Dr. Murtagh from working as a physician,” “disrupt Dr. Murtagh’s employment relationships;” “isolate him from friends, colleagues, and supporters,” “impose expenses on Dr. Murtagh,” and “inflict pain and suffering on Dr. Murtagh” by “harassing him by email and suggesting he commit suicide.” The author has not been able to directly verify the accuracy of those allegations; however, the kinds of abuses alleged are routinely reported by whistleblowers and other truth-tellers. [cont’d]