Former senior fellow sues Queen's over faculty appointment

Dr. Grzegorz Korpanty seeks $924,000 from University

The CCTG in Botterall Hall.

In an ongoing lawsuit, a former senior fellow at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) is suing Queen’s for an alleged breach of contract, according to court fillings obtained by The Journal.

The plaintiff, Dr. Grzegorz Korpanty, is seeking $924,000 over the university allegedly reneging on his appointment to the position of Senior Investigator at the CCTG. On top of the position, he would have also become an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology at a salary of $240,000 per year.

According to the university’s statement of defence, Queen’s denies a breach of contract and that Korpanty is entitled to compensation. 

After responding to a 2014 “national and international recruitment process” to fill the role of Senior Investigator at the CCTG, Korpanty underwent a lengthy interview process. He was chosen for the role on Jan. 16, 2015. 

At the time, Korpanty received a letter from Queen’s outlining “various terms and conditions” of his appointment. Because he was not a Canadian citizen at the time, Queen’s proposed a start date of July 1, 2015 to allow time for Korpanty to acquire the necessary documentation. 

On May 13, 2015, Queen’s formally offered Korpanty the position of Senior Investigator. 

In the university’s statement of defence, it claimed the offer to appoint Korpanty expired after the July 1 state date. In his claim, Korpanty denied the offer ever expired. 

To accept this original appointment and practice medicine in Ontario, he had to obtain a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and a Certificate of Registration from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

After Korpanty’s anticipated start date of July 1, months went by before he was able to receive either certification. In the interim, Korpanty accepted an offer from the CCTG to commence work as a senior fellow. 

Korpanty didn’t obtain the necessary work permit for the appointment until Oct. 28, 2015 and didn’t secure the required CPSO certification until Jan. 28, 2016.

Korpanty asserted that after fulfilling the two conditions for his appointments set out in the original offer from Queen’s, he expected to be able to enter the positions.

However, only days before receiving his CPSO certification on Jan. 28, Korpanty claimed his supervisors informed him for the first time of deficiencies in his performance as a senior fellow. He was also told that his appointments as senior investigator and assistant professor were in jeopardy if he didn’t improve. 

According to his claim, Korpanty was “shocked by the sudden sharp criticism of his performance when he had not previously received any feedback that he was not meeting Queen’s expectations.” 

In response, Queen’s said he’d received critical feedback before the Jan. 28 meeting. According to the University’s statement of defence, supervisors began meeting with Korpanty regularly only three months into his role as senior fellow to “discuss errors he made.”

“These were informal mentorship meetings, during which Dr. Korpanty was given specific examples of his performance issues in the areas of medical safety review, data quality review, protocol development, and trial oversight,” the statement read.

Queen’s claimed that by Jan. 22, 2016 Korpanty “failed to improve” despite regular feedback. In its statement, the University also said that Korpanty’s performance issues “exposed clinical trial patients to serious safety risks.” 

On April 21, 2016, Korpanty was told his performance still fell below Queen’s expectations. He learned the CCTG wouldn’t support his re-appointment to the position of senior investigator.

After reviewing the terms of the original offer, Korpanty sent a letter to Queen’s saying he’d fulfilled the two conditions of the offer and that he wished to discuss how his appointments would be implemented. 

In May 2016, Queen’s Executive Vice-Dean, Dr. Iain Young, sent a letter to Korpanty advising him of the University’s position. Young told Korpanty that because he hadn’t met the conditions of the offer by its July 1, 2015 deadline,  the appointments would require a new offer.

“On the basis of the receipt of unanticipated, but critically important new information regarding your suitability for the Senior Investigator position, I have decided not to recommend that you be offered an appointment,” Young wrote. 

According to Korpanty’s statement of claim, there was “no condition” in the agreement between himself and the university which stated the conditions needed to be met by July 1. 

In the University’s statement of defence, Queen’s claimed the offer letter “did not provide unlimited time” to meet the conditions. 

The case will continue in Toronto courts. 

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