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More Fallout at St. Luke's - Roosevelt

Widow Sues To Remove Smithers' Name

By Larry Neumeister



NEW YORK — The widow of the founder of the Smithers Alcoholism

Treatment Center is suing to force the center to change its name because it

replaced abstinence-based therapy with a program allowing moderate drinking.


Adele C. Smithers-Fornaci, the late Robert Brinkley Smithers' wife, filed a $30

million federal suit Wednesday.


She accused St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center of reneging on the terms of

a $10 million gift that established the center in 1971. Among those terms was a

requirement that the center offer only abstinence-based alcoholism treatment,

she said.


Hospital spokesman Brad Korn said the hospital could not comment until it had

seen the suit.


Smithers-Fornaci said she has gotten hundreds of letters recently from former

patients who "are shocked, dismayed, upset" by the changes at the rehab center

- where such celebrities as Truman Capote and Joan Kennedy have been treated.


She said some patients mistakenly believe the moderate-drinking therapy is

endorsed by the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation Inc., established by her

late husband in 1952.


"It was exactly contrary to his beliefs, his personal experience with the


of alcoholism and the medical and scientific information available," she said.


The lawsuit accused the center of violating the Smithers foundation's

trademarks as well as breach of contract, unfair competition and deceptive

trade practices.


Smithers-Fornaci said the changes in the Smithers' program began shortly after

her husband's death in 1994.