Judge Dismisses Suit Alleging Creator of AIDS Memorial Quilt Wrongfully Fired From Names Project Foundation
San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren on Tuesday dismissed charges in a lawsuit filed by the creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt alleging that the Atlanta-based Names Project Foundation, which owns the quilt, wrongfully fired him, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2). In his lawsuit, Cleve Jones -- who started the 50-ton, 40,000-panel quilt in 1987 and served as its spokesperson for 15 years -- claims the foundation fired him from his $41,500 salary job in December 2003 because he encouraged a plan to take the quilt on a nationwide, election-year tour ending with a display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He also alleges that the foundation did not keep its promise to reopen a quilt project office in San Francisco, where the quilt was first sewn and where the foundation was located until 2001. Foundation Board President Edward Gatta has said that the foundation did not fire Jones but instead suspended his salary because he had refused to meet with officials during the last three months of the year to discuss changes in his role with the foundation. The foundation in January 2004 said that Jones, who is HIV-positive, could retain health benefits through the foundation, despite losing his salary (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/26/04). Warren ruled that the foundation had grounds to fire Jones because he had demanded control of the organization and made comments suggesting that Gatta was an ineffective leader of the foundation. Despite Warren's ruling on Jones' firing, Warren on Tuesday allowed Jones' claim that he was "muzzled from speaking and thwarted from promoting his life's work," the Chronicle reports. As a result, a jury in September will determine if the foundation intentionally caused him emotional harm (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.