The Honolulu Community-Media Council honored Star-Bulletin reporter Tim Ruel yesterday for his work uncovering a secret lawsuit settlement against the University of Hawaii.

Reporter honored for
uncovering settlement

Star-Bulletin staff

Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Tim Ruel, whose use of state open records uncovered a secret settlement involving a cloning researcher's intellectual property lawsuit against the University of Hawaii, was honored yesterday for excellence in journalism by the Honolulu Community-Media Council.

Ruel, along with former Honolulu Advertiser writer and author Cobey Black, received the council's Fletcher Knebel Award at a luncheon at the East-West Center.

The award is named after the late nationally syndicated columnist and novelist who helped lead the council during the decade before his death in 1993. Knebel also was a top-level political correspondent in Washington, D.C.

Ruel, a business writer at the Star-Bulletin for three years, used the state open-records law to force the disclosure of a 2001 settlement that ended former UH researcher Anthony Perry's 1999 suit over the rights to technology he developed for cloning mice. The state Office of Information Practices, then under Moya Gray, ruled that UH had to disclose the settlement.

Perry claimed that UH's licensing of the technology to ProBioAmerica Inc., a firm founded by Australians that used to be based in Honolulu, violated his right to the intellectual property. The university countersued Perry, accusing him of divulging confidential laboratory information.

Ruel, whose initial story about the settlement appeared in the Star-Bulletin in December 2001, is a graduate of Punahou and the University of Richmond in Virginia. He previously worked for Pacific Business News.

Black, whose career as a writer included many years as an Advertiser columnist, last year published "Hawaii Scandal," a book recounting details of the Massie case that brought to light issues of racism, race and murder in the islands in the 1930s.

Yesterday's program was co-sponsored by the council, the Honolulu Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the East-West Center and the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council.

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