Shiva Ayyadurai Sues Gawker for $35 Million for Saying He Didn’t Invent Email

The MIT graduate takes aim at Nick Denton and company.

Photograph by Miller Mobley for "Return to Sender"

Photograph by Miller Mobley for “Return to Sender

A Cambridge man and MIT graduate who claims to have invented email in the late ’70s is suing Gawker Media for $35 million, alleging one of its sites mounted a defamatory campaign against him.

Shiva Ayyadurai filed a federal suit in Boston Tuesday, claiming that Gizmodo, Gawker’s tech site, posted two “false and highly defamatory articles” about him in 2012, incorrectly tracing the origin of email and amounting to a “misinformation campaign.” In 2014, Gizmodo published another post on Ayyadurai, written by Sam Biddle, calling him a “fraud,” “renowned liar,” and a “big fake.”

Ayyadurai says he’s been “publicly humiliated” by the Gizmodo coverage, and suffered “substantial damage” to his personal and professional reputation and career as a result.

Ayyadurai, who is married to actress and comedienne Fran Drescher and currently operates the International Center for Integrative Systems in Cambridge, claims to have invented email while working as a research fellow at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. However, Ray Tomlinson, who died of a heart attack in March, is popularly credited with inventing the now-indispensable tool while working at Cambridge’s Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in 1971.