I have recently — and prematurely — interrupted a work relationship with a research institution, due to a series of professional/scientific disagreements. Considering that these disagreements were mostly due to a serious lack of organization from my supervisors, I felt righteous to leave with just a 14-day notice and before they could find a replacement for the project.
Of course, this has not reflected well on who hired me, and it surely brought some aversion from my former colleagues and supervisors.
It recently happened that I received a terrible review to one of my submitted papers, which led to rejection even if the other referees were recommending publication.
To put it shortly, this review was casting doubts that I was trying to re-publish old material of mine, selling it as new just by adding small new features. Without going into details, this is completely false on any ground. There is no reference to that research in any of my previous publications, at all.
Moreover, the tone of the reviewer was clearly hostile and aggressive, in total opposition with the positive comments and cordiality that I received from the other two referees.
This is making me think that the reviewer was a former colleague and that his/her review was deliberately in bad faith.
Is it possible/acceptable to discourage any reviewer from that research group?
If yes, how? I do not remember all the email addresses and names of the group members so I cannot simply use the submission form. State it in the cover letter? Send a separate note to the editor?
Mind that, although my field is narrow, reviewers can easily be found somewhere else.