charges doctor with souvenir-hunting
January 7, 2004
of former Beatle George Harrison has filed a $10 million law suit against one of the last doctors to treat the late rock musician,
claiming he violated patient confidentiality and misused his relationship to procure souvenirs.
The suit filed in Brooklyn
Federal Court claimed that Gilbert Lederman, director of radiation oncology at Staten Island University Hospital, a co-defendant in the suit, had coerced a failing Harrison to autograph his son's guitar and sign autographs
for his two daughters.
It also charged Dr Lederman with using Harrison's treatment to gain publicity for himself and the hospital against the express wishes of Harrison, who
died of cancer on November 29, 2001, about two weeks after he had left Staten Island for California.
Harrison was treated for about three weeks in New York.
"Staten Island University Hospital takes patient confidentiality very seriously and
has not breached confidentiality," hospital spokeswoman Arleen Ryback said.
The suit claims Dr Lederman "preyed upon Mr
Harrison while he was in a greatly deteriorated mental and physical condition by coercing" him to sign a guitar and other
autographs as he was being prepared to leave Dr Lederman's care.
Court papers say Dr Lederman visited Harrison with his son and daughters and had Harrison listen to his son play the guitar and then placed it in the former Beatle's lap and asked him to autograph
When Harrison resisted, the suit claims Dr Lederman reached out to hold his hand to help
"As far as Mr Harrison being forced to sign the guitar goes, he absolutely and categorically denies that," said
the doctor's lawyer, Wayne Roth.
The suit says that after Harrison's death, Dr Lederman gave a story about the guitar
to the National Enquirer, which featured a photograph of the doctor's son holding the instrument.
The lawyer representing
the Harrisons, Paul LiCalsi, said the family was primarily interested in retrieving what it felt was ill-gotten memorabilia.
recently as a few hours ago we gave them the opportunity to avoid this proceeding by simply returning the guitar and the autographs,"
Mr LiCalsi said.
"We even offered to give him a replacement guitar and the doctor refused."
Beatles doctor faces £5m lawsuit
January 8, 2004
The family of George Harrison have filed a £5.5million lawsuit against
one of the last doctors who treated him - accusing him of forcing the late Beatle to sign autographs as he lay dying.
Harrison's widow Olivia and son Dhani also complain that Dr Gil Lederman violated patient confidentiality by
giving media interviews - against the family's explicit wishes - about the musician hours after his death from lung cancer.
The papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court claim that Lederman, director of radiation oncology at Staten Island University Hospital, pushed Harrison into signing his son's guitar and two autographs
for his daughters a fortnight before he died in November 2001, aged 58.
Olivia Harrison contacted Lederman, who wears
cowboy boots and is said to have a gift for self-promotion, after surfing the Internet as Harrison's condition deteriorated.
The cancer had spread from his lung and throat to his brain.
Lederman was said to
have achieved startling results in previous cases by bombarding tumours with concentrated doses of radiation.
But it was
too late to save Harrison's life
and the ex-Beatle decided to spend his final days in California.
Before he left, says the lawsuit, Lederman
'preyed upon Mr Harrison while he was in a greatly deteriorated mental and physical condition by coercing him to sign a guitar'.
According to the court papers: 'Dr Lederman took the children into the room where Mr Harrison was bedridden and in great
discomfort. Dr Lederman had Mr Harrison listen to his son play the guitar. Afterwards he took the guitar and put it in Mr
Harrison's lap.' Harrison was then asked to sign the instrument for Lederman's son Ariel,
now 14, and cards for his daughters Sarah, 18, and ten-year-old Eve.
When he was unable to oblige, Lederman was said to
have told him: 'Come on, you can do this', and helped him write his name by holding his hand. Harrison was reported to have said: 'I do not even know if I know how to spell my name any more.'
Asked how details of
the guitar incident were obtained, the Harrisons' lawyer Paul LiCalsi said: 'There were witnesses
- a friend of Mr Harrison's and a nurse.' Both have been earmarked as future witnesses in the case.
The New York state Health Department last year
reprimanded Lederman for giving interviews about Harrison without his consent, for which he paid a £3,500
In addition, Lederman is accused of posing with his son and the autographed guitar in an American magazine shortly
after Harrison's death - a move which the singer's estate says was designed to increase
the value of the instrument.
Mrs Harrison, 55, and Dhani, 26, are also asking for possession of the guitar and the two
autographs as well as $10million in damages. Mr LiCalsi said his clients were mainly interested in retaining some important
'I've never heard of more reprehensible behaviour by a doctor. George was literally lying there dying and
the doctor forced George to sign a guitar. The doctor should not be permitted to profit from this behaviour.
as a few hours ago we gave them the opportunity to avoid this proceeding by simply returning the guitar and the autographs.
We even offered to give him a replacement guitar and the doctor refused.
'It's been devastating for the family. Not only
did it make George's last days a great ordeal for them, but they're left with the prospect of these items being bought and
sold for years,'
After Harrison's death, Lederman gave interviews in which he said the musician had faced death in a 'quiet
and dignified' manner.
'He did not fear dying because he believed death is a birth, that life continues after death.'
Lederman has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit and there will then be a period of discovery in which both sides produce
evidence and take depositions from the witnesses. If no settlement is reached the case could go for trial in the Brooklyn
Federal court by the end of the year.
The doctor's lawyer, Wayne Roth, said: 'This lawsuit is strictly allegations. Frankly,
I think it's absurd. He didn't coerce Mr Harrison. As far as Mr Harrison being forced to sign the guitar goes, he absolutely
and categorically denies that.'
Harrison left his UK estate, worth £99million, in trust to Olivia. She also received the rest of his fortune, estimated to
be a further £100million, including homes in Hawaii, Italy and Switzerland, and the rights to several of his songs.
Harrison's will stipulated that Dhani would receive his
fortune on Olivia's death.
Harrison estate, doctor settle
16, 2004 May 14, 2004
YORK (AP) -- The estate of George Harrison has settled its lawsuit against a doctor it accused of coercing the dying
ex-Beatle into signing a guitar belonging to the doctor's son.
The guitar "will be disposed of privately" and Harrison's estate will give a new guitar to Ariel Lederman,
the 14-year-old son of the doctor who treated Harrison for cancer two weeks before his death, according
to a joint statement read aloud Friday in federal court. No further details were available.
The settlement came 10 days
after the lawsuit was filed against Dr. Gilbert Lederman, his three children and his employer, Staten Island University Hospital.
"George Harrison's music spoke to the heart
and soul of my generation," said Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, who presided over the settlement. He said the agreement "preserves
the dignity and protects the privacy of all concerned."
Harrison, 58, died in November 2001 after battling lung
cancer and a brain tumor.
Two weeks before his death, the lawsuit alleged, Harrison was coerced by Lederman into signing autographs at a house near the Staten Island hospital. Lederman directs the hospital's radiation oncology department, which is known for treating large tumors
with high doses of radiation.
Lederman entered uninvited with his three children and had Harrison listen to his son play the guitar before asking the musician to sign the instrument and two cards, the suit charged.
It alleged that the musician tried to resist, saying, "I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore."
held Harrison's hand as the musician wrote his name on the guitar "with great effort and much
obvious discomfort," according to the suit. The estate sought possession of the guitar and the two cards.
prevents all parties from commenting on the dispute or its settlement. It stipulated that it does not indicate wrongdoing
by Lederman, his children or the hospital.
Beatle Doc Loses $5.5M Suit
The doctor accused of forcing a dying George Harrison to autograph
his son's guitar was hit yesterday with a $5.5 million malpractice verdict.
A Staten Island Supreme Court jury awarded the money to Robert Lo Primo, 44, who claimed that Dr.
Gil Lederman's use of pinpoint radiation worsened a neck tumor condition similar to "Elephant Man's Disease."
a Staten Island carpenter, said the radiation hardened
the surrounding tissue and as a result, he can breathe only with a tube in his neck. Lo Primo's lawyer, Steve Samuel, accused
Lederman of using his client as a guinea pig.
"He had no idea, no experience, no expertise and no scientific basis to
establish that there was any proven benefit to a person with this disease," Samuel said. "There were many known risks, but
no known benefits."
Lo Primo said, "I was ripe for picking. I hate surgery. I wanted an alternative." Lederman's lawyer,
Andy Garson - who had argued that Lo Primo's problems came from a pre-existing condition - said trial judge Joseph Maltese
had granted his request for a hearing to review the verdict and the size of the award.
In January, Lederman was slapped
with a $10 million suit by Harrison's estate, which charged that as the Beatle lay dying at Staten Island University Hospital, the doctor coerced him into autographing an electric guitar.