- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

A federal judge has denied a request to move a lawsuit filed by the fundraising arm of Children’s National Medical Center against the Virginia company that ran its charity car donation program.

An attorney for the president of Fairfax-based Charity Vehicle Services Inc. argued that pretrial publicity and D.C. residents’ close ties to the children’s hospital will make it impossible for his client to get a fair trial in the District.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled Thursday that the case should remain in the District, saying publicity “which concerns defendants is not likely to cause the prejudice they fear.”

Children’s Hospital Foundation, which raises money for Children’s National Medical Center, sued Charity Vehicle Services and its executives in January.

The foundation, which had hired the company to run its charity vehicle program, cited mismanagement, accounting lapses and an outstanding debt of nearly $700,000. The foundation has discontinued the program.

Defendants include Charity Vehicle Services, its president, Gregory C. Babcock, his ad firm, Babcock Advertising Agency Inc., and three Charity Vehicle Services executives: Ruth Song-Babcock, Richard Murray and Daniel Corrigan.

The foundation said the executives were “unjustly enriched” between 2001 and 2003 through management fees, media commissions “and other fronted monies.”

Scott S. Ives, an attorney for the Babcocks and the Babcock Advertising Agency, disputes the charges.

“Complaints of conversion, embezzlement and fraud are … without the knowledge or consent of co-defendants Gregory and Ruth Babcock and the Babcock Agency,” a defense pleading states.

“It was defendants Gregory and Ruth Babcock who brought the information of these fraudulent actions to Children’s attention,” the pleading states.

An attorney for Mr. Corrigan has said his client had no role in the company’s financial affairs.

The foundation and Mr. Corrigan have reached a tentative settlement in the case, according to court records filed by the foundation’s attorneys in July.

Mr. Murray has not filed an answer to the lawsuit, court records show.

In a telephone interview last month, Mr. Murray told The Washington Times that he committed no wrongdoing and that he was being blamed unfairly for the program’s demise.

Mr. Ives sought to move the case from the District to another jurisdiction in documents he filed last month and in August.

The pleadings cited coverage of the lawsuit by The Times and ties between potential jurors and the hospital foundation.

Mr. Ives said the foundation is popular in the District and that potential jurors might have “strong experiences with the hospital.”

Citing ongoing litigation, Mr. Ives yesterday declined to comment on the case other than to say his clients committed no wrongdoing.

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