Sunday, February 18, 2018
Opinion

Feud unfurls family ties

Over the course of a year, the Indian calendar is filled with a vast array of celebratory religious observances and holidays. But it is probably fair to say that Chetan Shah won't be invited to too many events, especially those held at whatever estate-du-jour his brother-in-law Dr. Kiran Patel may be hosting. Lawsuits have a way of straining family comity.

All families endure stresses, dysfunction and heavy sighs at the prospect of spending time with the crazy uncle, or the cousin who can't hold his liquor, or the niece who wants to proselytize what a wonderful thing Scientology is. Among a certain strain of my own bloodline, get-togethers often tend to turn into tea party rallies. Pitchforks optional. Good times, good times.

But few rifts among family members ever go as public as the ongoing dispute between health care mogul Kiran Patel and his somewhat more mogul-challenged brother-in-law Chetan Shah.

At issue is who deserves credit for the recent International Indian Film Academy's awards in Tampa and more pointed accusations that Shah improperly listed Patel's name as a major patron of the event in order boost its profile and garner financial support. Enter the lawyers.

In its earliest days, Shah, a Lutz businessman, was indeed front and center in luring the Bollywoodfest to Tampa and promoting the event. But over time, Shah was airbrushed out of the picture as Patel emerged as the face of the awards show.

Various vendors associated with the show have now sued, claiming promised contracts to perform services for the gala were never realized. Now Patel claims Shah listed him as a managing partner without his knowledge on the Go Bollywood Tampa Bay Florida Convention LLC in order to lend instant credibility that the business plan was impeccably sound.

After all, Patel, whose name is on so many enterprises in these parts, second only to "Tampa," is a leading corporate big shot and philanthropist, and has often been the go-to guy for all manner of civic pursuits.

As things turned out, whether Patel was actually a part of the organizing committee, or his brother-in-law had indeed listed his name without his knowledge, eventually the cardiologist did step in to underwrite the Bollywood soiree.

When the big day finally arrived, Shah was barely an official afterthought, receiving almost no credit or recognition. In response he went on a hunger strike no one paid any attention to either.

Shah, whose sister, Dr. Pallavi Patel, is married to Kiran Patel, indicated that an out-of-court settlement negotiated by other family members may be in the works. Very nice. But Shah probably still shouldn't anticipate any invitations to the sprawling estate in north Tampa the Patels are building anytime soon.

After all, at this acrimonious point what do Patel and Shah have in common? Comparing notes on billable attorneys hours? Sometimes money proves to be thicker than blood.

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