The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Souvenir hunt on Beatle deathbed

New York, Jan. 7 (Reuters): The estate of former Beatle George Harrison filed a $10-million law suit yesterday 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 Dr. 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 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,” said hospital spokeswoman Arleen Ryback.

The suit claims Lederman “preyed upon 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 Lederman’s care.

Court papers say 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 it.

When Harrison resisted, the suit claims Lederman reached out to hold his hand to help him write. “As far as 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, 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.

“As recently as a few hours ago we gave them the opportunity to avoid this proceeding by simply returning the guitar and the autographs,” said LiCalsi. “We even offered to give him a replacement guitar and the doctor refused.”

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