FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) – A family medical practice has sued its landlord to determine who owns the palm-sized meteorite that crashed through the building’s roof into an examination room. The doctors say the meteorite is in “safekeeping” at the Smithsonian Institutions, which offered $5,000 for the space rock, which the doctors want to donate for relief work in Haiti.
Williamsburg Square Family Practice sued its landlord, Mutlu Property Management and several members of the Mutlu family, in Fairfax County Court.
The doctors claim that the Mutlus swooped in and claimed ownership of the meteorite “after the incident garnered local publicity.”
The doctors say they lease the office suite from the Mutlu family and are in “exclusive possession of that property during [their] lease term.”
“The meteorite did not imbed itself in the land or building, and thus did not become a part of the land or fixture,” the doctors point out.
The meteorite crashed into an examination in the doctors’ suite at 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 18 this year. No one was in the room when the meteorite broke through the ceiling and “came to rest in pieces on the floor,” and nobody was hurt.
The doctors say that Erol Mutlu initially agreed to donate the rock to the Smithsonian for preservation and study. Then the Mutlus changed their mind, said they “intended to pick up the meteorite,” and objected to its being handed over to the Smithsonian, according to the complaint.
The doctors office says that if the court declares it the owner of the “historical artifact,” it will stay with the Smithsonian, and the money will go to the Haitian relief effort of Doctors Without Borders.
The Practice seeks declaratory judgment. It is represented by Keith Marino with Arent Fox.