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04/13/07

In a conflict of service and money, law firm sides with humanity


Houston-based law firm Baker Botts has volunteered to represent the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation in its fight against the Houston City authorities. The authorities plan to displace the Center and sell its property.

On March 23, the Center received a letter from the director of real estate with the City of Houston. The letter asked the Center to sign a short-term lease of three years and agree to then evict the place. The letter also spoke about the authorities' plan to sell the Center's property.

"We think the center should stay exactly where it is and continue to provide the services it is providing, and we hope the city agrees with that," asserted Baker Botts' lawyer Irv Terrell.

The Center, set up in 1950, serves more than 600 persons with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities.

According to the Center's Board member, Jack Manning, the Center is in possession of a 99-year lease signed in 1963 on the property of five acres. Additionally, it has a preferential right to a 30-year renewal on the remaining one acre. "These leases have been honored by seven Mayors," informed Manning. He questions Mayor Bill White's idea to evict the mentally retarded to increase the City's revenue.

Differentiating the value of the Center's services in comparison with the City's motive to do real estate housekeeping, C. Wayne Johnson, the president of The Center's Board of Governors, brings forth the problems in shifting the Center.

Former city attorney John Wildenthal opines that the Center's services are more significant for the citizens than the rent or sale money planned to be generated from the property.

"Save the Center" campaign is getting support from different quarters. While around 4,700 people have signed an online appeal disapproving the city officials' step, about 200 supporters and residents of the Center took out a rally recently in support of the Center's stand.

Sorry doctor, you can't avoid lawsuit!
A doctor said "I'm sorry" to a middle-aged patient after failing to fix the woman's eyelid even after the second operation. This news has ruffled many a feather in the legal community.

Dr. Michael Migliori, an ophthalmic plastic surgeon and lobbyist for the Rhode Island Medical Society, is reported to have operated the patient twice before fixing her eye lid. After the second operation, the doctor said: I'm sorry. He wasn't sued.

Can the two magic words 'I'm sorry' save a doctor from a lawsuit? The incident is not first of its kind. This is a challenge before the legal community.

According to the American Medical Association, 29 states have enacted evidentiary rules that make expressions of sympathy following an accident or error inadmissible in civil court to prove liability.

However, apology laws vary from state to state.

In the words of AMA, the legislation, normally referred to as "I'm sorry" laws, promotes full confession of mistakes or errors in judgment. It dismisses physicians' and hospitals' apprehension that their admission of guilt would be used against them in a court of law.

It remains to be seen how legal community reacts to the doctors' admission of guilt and their escape from the lawsuit.

BIZARRE NEWS

London guy dreams his future wife's phone number
How do you react on a text message coming from a complete stranger? Ignore? Reply back? Marry him??? Michelle Kitson chose the last option. The story: Five years ago, David Brown, 24, dreamt the phone number of his future wife. Following his instincts, he decided to send a text message - "Did I meet you last night?" Kitson replied "Who are you and where are you from?" Thus began the series of 'sms'ing. After some heavy messaging and couple of meetings, their romance kicked off. They got married and recently returned from their honeymoon in Goa, India. A love-struck Brown claimed, "I've no idea how I ended up with her number in my head - it's only a few digits different from mine," on dailymail.co.uk. What else is weird? He is 6'7". She is 5'4. Leaves us wondering, did Verizon sponsor the wedding?!

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