Stay Denied in ‘Unusual’ Case Against Emirates

     (CN) – A Maryland architect who has battled her lawyer for over a decade in a copyright lawsuit involving the United Arab Emirates embassy suffered some legal blows this week.
     Elena Sturdza sued the United Arab Emirates in 1998, claiming the federation ripped off her contest entry architectural design for its embassy in Washington, D.C. After Sturdza lost in District Court, she hired attorney Nathan Lewin, who helped her win on appeal. Then, in 2002, Lewin challenged Sturdza’s ability to make rational decisions about the case, saying she was “not able to act in her own interest,” and moved for appointment of a guardian.
     Sturdza repeatedly claimed that Lewin “fabricates” things and was sabotaging her case. Lewin said Sturdza was trying to dismiss him in order to claim a contingency fee and reap the benefit of all the legal services he already performed.
     Lewin claimed that the case was destroyed by Sturdza’s inability to be rational, and wanted her to undergo psychological examination. She was court-ordered to undergo a mental health examination in August 2003, but she refused to set up an appointment. The District Court then granted the move for appointment of a guardian.
     But the D.C. Circuit overturned the lower court’s decision, saying Sturdza was not afforded due process.
     At the hearing on the guardian appointment, U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. said Sturdza “spoke for over an hour. While lengthy, very little of what she said was new. Contrary to the finding of the D.C. Circuit regarding the matter, this court has ‘heard’ Sturdza.”
     Kennedy supported the guardian appointment in 2009, saying Sturdza is “irrational” and qualifies as an “incompetent person.” He also described the case as “unusual and complicated.”
     Sturdza had since moved to stay all proceedings pending a decision by the Federal Circuit on her appeals.
     The Federal Circuit dismissed two appeals from Sturdza Friday, noting that she had filed them “without the knowledge and authorization of her guardian ad litem.”
     Citing those dismissals, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein struck Sturdza’s motion for a stay as moot Tuesday.

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