Dear Mr. Lugash:
I am responding to your letters of July 26 and August 7. As you are aware, after receiveing you July 26 leter, I faxed you various documents from ONE Institute’s files supporting the good faith of its claim to the materials in dispute. These documents included a five page report from John O’Brien (then the Executive Director of ONE Institute) dated April 3, 1997 which recounted in great detail the efforts he made on behalf of ONE to save the HIC collection from destruction after Don Slater’s death. Mr. O’Brien's report indicated that, in the limited time available to him, he had found within HIC’s files various papers and documents that were required to ONE under the 1967 Settlement of Agreement but had not been returned to ONE.
Furthermore, I provided you with the typewritten minutes of the ONE Institute Board Meeting on March 5, 1997 where Mr. O’Brien reported that the HIC Board had decided to merge the HIC’s collection with ONE’s, and where ONE’s Board voted to receive the materials. I also provided you with handwritten notes from the same meeting which state: “Executive Director Report: John O’Brien Homosexual Information Center -- will become a special collection of ONE Inst. for files, while their books and periodicals will be integrated into main ONE library. ONE board voted unanimously to accept HIC books periodicals & misc. into ONE collection & HIC archival files to be a special collection of ONE, in a separate room on 1st floor of 909.”
These documents make it plain that ONE’s claims were made in good faith. In addition, it is significant that, after HIC’s files were moved to the 909 West Adams location, and after Jim Schneider had been made a member of ONE’s board, an effort was made with Jim’s knowledge to begin to integrate HIC’s books and periodicals into the main ONE library.
In addition, I communicated to you what my client and I considered to be a very reasonable proposal to settle this dispute. Our settlement proposal was simple. ONE would give up its claim to ownership of the disputed files, but ONE wanted HIC and ONE to conduct a joint review of the files to make sure that under the 1967 settlement agreement would now be returned to ONE -- with some agreed-upon mechanism to resolve any disputes over specific documents. I also asked you to provide me with any documents your client had supporting its position.
Thereafter, after discussing the matter with your clients, you informed me by telephone essentially as follows: (1) your clients’ position is that John O’Brien’s report to the ONE Institute Board was a fabrication and that HIC’s position is that it simply decided in 1997 to store its files at ONE’s facility; (2) your clients had no relevant documents whatsoever (3) your clients were unwilling to discuss settlement further, and they insisted that ONE withdraw all claims to the disputed material.
In addition, I would note that, before lawyers got involved in this dispute, ONE had twice requested in writing an explanation of the concerns leading to the removal of the collection from the Board of the HIC. On neither occasion did the HIC Board respond. ONE has further maintained informal communications with HIC Board members and associates, and offered to resolve problems, but those offers have also been snubbed. This refusal to negotiate is very disappointing.
ONE’s claim was clearly made in good faith. It is not credible that Mr. O’Brien totally fabricated his report in 1997, and it is not credible that ONE and HIC simply agreed that ONE would provide free storage for HIC’s files. If there was no agreement along the lines reported by John O’Brien to the ONE board, then why did Mr. Schneider go along with he integration of ONE’s books and periodicals into the ONE library? And, if all of the files clearly were understood to belong to HIC, then why did Mr. Schneider and Mr. White sneak in on Christmas Eve to remove the documents, rather than have HIC simply request their return? We also find it puzzling that your clients have no relevant documents whatsoever. If HIC is an entity in good standing, it must have board meetings and minutes which would at least make mention of this matter.
Notwithstanding the strength of its position, ONE is prepared to and does hereby withdraw its claim to ownership of the disputed files, subject to ONE’s right to seek enforcement of the 1967 settlement agreement and ONE’s right to any documents that should have been returned to ONE pursuant to that agreement.
If HIC is not prepared to allow a joint review of the files to look for any documents covered by the 1967 settlement agreement, and donates the files to Cal State Northridge or someone else, ONE reserves the right to ask that the recipient of the files return to ONE any documents to which ONE was entitled under the 1967 settlement agreement.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like do discuss this matter further.
Allen M, Katz
cc: Kevin Jeter, Cal State University (via fax and US Mail).