A doctor forced a weakened George Harrison to autograph a guitar for the physician's teenage son two weeks before the ex-Beatle died of cancer, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.
Filed by Harrison's estate, the suit alleges that the musician tried to resist the request by saying, "I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore."
The suit alleges that Dr. Gilbert Lederman responded by saying, "Come on, you can do this," and held Harrison's hand as the musician wrote his name on the guitar "with great effort and much obvious discomfort."
The estate seeks possession of the guitar and two cards it says Harrison signed as he was treated by Lederman, a Staten Island-based expert in treating large tumors with high doses of radiation. Harrison died in November 2001 after battling lung cancer and a brain tumor.
"This lawsuit is strictly allegations. Frankly, I think it's absurd," Lederman's attorney, Wayne Roth, said Tuesday. "He didn't coerce Mr. Harrison."
Harrison's wife and son believe a National Enquirer story about Harrison's death that featured Lederman's son holding the instrument was orchestrated by Lederman to raise the item's value, a lawyer for the Harrison estate said Tuesday.
"George was literally lying there dying and the doctor forced George to sign a guitar," Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for Harrison's estate, said Tuesday. "The doctor should not be permitted to profit from this behavior."
Roth said Lederman's son still plays the guitar and the family has no intention of selling it. The instrument, appraised in connection with a state investigation of Lederman's treatment of Harrison, is worth less than $10,000, Roth said.
The estate also accuses Lederman of violating Harrison's privacy by orchestrating invasive media coverage in the interest of promoting his medical practice.
Lederman conducted interviews about Harrison with several news outlets, many within hours of the ex-Beatle's death, the suit charges.
The New York State Health Department has reprimanded Lederman for talking to the press about Harrison without his consent. Documents indicate that Lederman accepted his censure - a reprimand and a $5,000 fine.
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