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Grad Student Suit

Former graduate student Jim Connell is suing the University for 60 counts ranging from personal injury to criminal negligence, citing several years of ignored complaints regarding his residential housing and laboratory conditions while studying neuropsychology, he said yesterday.

Among other grievances, Connell accused the University of providing "living quarters which were dangerous, flooded and moldy," causing him to develop a dangerous lung condition called aspergillosis, according to the complaint he filed last year. In addition, Connell "had to perform research in a laboratory that was undergoing asbestos removal and lacked a functioning fume hood," according to the same document.

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Further, Connell said in the document that his repeated requests for improved living conditions were ignored by the housing department.

Housing Associate Director Harold Szenes refused to comment on Connell's allegations. The University's legal representative in the case, Peter McDonough, was unavailable for comment, according to the University Counsel office.

Aspergillosis, a disease that involves mold growing in the lungs, can be cured only through daily high-level doses of steroids for a prolonged period of time, Connell said in an email yesterday. He also said the steroids have caused an otherwise inactive brain cyst to grow, the cartilage on his knees to deteriorate and his stomach to erode, resulting in regular bloody vomiting.

Student status

According to Connell's official complaint, the University also made several attempts to deny him his student status. Connell said these attempts included accusations of general harassment and sexual harassment as well as a fallacious assertion that he was failing statistics. Connell said his professor told him he would pass the course if he did well on the final exam.

Connell also said in the complaint that he was left without medical insurance after the University terminated his student status. "As of on or about May 16, 1997, my knees are so bad from deteriorating cartilage, that I have to have surgery this summer. . . . I do not know what I will do to take care of my health problems. . . . Princeton University should not be able to terminate my insurance after all that it has done to me."

Connell is currently moving out of his University housing, though he said he is having trouble due to his knee problems, which require him to wear knee braces and use crutches and a cane.

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Connell is also accusing neuroscience professor Bart Hoebel of improper research conduct. He said the professor's action included "severe deviation from the professional standard of care in pharmaceutical research and neuroscience." In his complaint, he said the consensus of colleagues outside the University community was that he "needed to report these finding as a scientific and safety obligation."

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