The doctor accused of forcing Beatle George Harrison to autograph a guitar as he lay dying has agreed to dispose of the guitar to settle a lawsuit by Harrison’s estate, attorneys involved in the case said Friday.
The settlement was reached after two days of talks between lawyers for Harrison’s family and for Dr. Gilbert Lederman, who treated the musician at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.
Harrison, who died of cancer on Nov. 29, 2001, was treated for about three weeks in New York.
The Harrison family had filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Lederman, claiming he coerced the failing Harrison to autograph his son’s guitar and sign autographs for his two daughters.
According to the suit, the doctor had Harrison listen to his son play a guitar, placed it in his lap and asked him to autograph it. When Harrison resisted, the suit said, Lederman reached out to hold his hand to help him write.
Under terms of the settlement, the Harrison family will give Lederman’s son a replacement guitar and drop the lawsuit. The signed guitar and the autographs “will be disposed of privately,” the attorneys’ statement said without elaborating.
The agreement was announced in the Brooklyn courtroom of U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who said: “George Harrison’s music spoke to the heart and soul of my generation.
“I am grateful that the parties have reached an agreement that not only resolves the nascent litigation, but, even more significantly, preserves the dignity and protects the privacy of all concerned,” the judge said.
The Harrison family had sought to obtain the guitar and autographs. They had rejected the doctor’s offer to donate the instrument to charity.
In the attorneys’ statement, they said the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing on anyone’s part. They also said Harrison’s medical treatment was not at issue.
Last week, the hospital said Lederman was leaving his post as head of the radiation oncology department but said his departure was unrelated to the Harrison case.