Dr. Walter H. Fearn Threatens to Sue for Month's Attendance at "Konoyah"



Bill Represents Charge of $10 an Hour during Detention at Millionaire's Home



Milos Mitrov Gopcevic, Who Married Heiress When a Motorman, Asked to Pay



From the lonely confines of the famous "Konoyah" estate in the Lake county, where dwells wealthy Milos Mitrov Gopcevic, the millionaire, at one time a blue clad, hard working gripman on the Sacramento street cable line, there came yesterday the story of a most unusual happening — an occurrence which may be aired soon in the courts of San Francisco, with Dr. Walter H. Fearn, a well known Lake county physician and Gopcevic as the central figures. Gopcevic will be remembered as the gripman who married Miss Floyd, the heiress.

For 696 hours, or 29 days, Dr. Fearn alleges, he was a prisoner in the home of Gopcevic, where he had gone to treat the millionaire's brother. For each of these hours the physician wants $10 each, which, he claims, is justly due him as a special fee covering, as he declares, "unusual detention" in the famous "Konoyah" mansion. For 696 hours Dr. Fearn says he was kept from his patients, who charged that he forsook them to become the private attendant of a rich man. All these things and minor allegations have been made in a sensational statement, made by Dr. Fearn to a legal firm, in whose hands he has placed his case. He firm will bring suit for $6,960 against one of the most fortunate cable car gripman who ever breasted the chilling fogs of the Western addition.




The splendor of "Konoyah" mansion held no prize for Dr. Fearn, although he had servants at his beck and call, priceless paintings to be studied when his patient rested easily and countless modes of recreation. But ever present in the doctor's mind, he says, were suffering patients whom he could not reach and he was stirred to indignation. When he attempted to persuade Gopcevic to permit him to leave the place he says he was confronted by violent entreaties. "You can not go. You must save the life of my brother Peter." Fearn says that his suggestions were met with emphatic promises.

"I will pay whatever price you say," said Gopcevic, according to the physician, and Fearn declares that when he agreed to remain for $10 an hour Gopcevic offered no objection.

"You do not doubt that I can pay your bill?" anxiously quizzed the millionaire. "I am a rich man, but to leave my brother to a horrible death in these lonely parts would break my heart."

And so Fearn remained. For a whole month Dr. Fearn treated Peter Gopcevic and at the expiration of that time the sick man arose from his bed and departed for another part of the state.




The sad sequel, sad at least for Dr. Fearn, came when the physician presented his claim for services. Upon a regulation billhead, in the doctor's handwriting, the following statement was sent to Gopcevic:

"Milos M. Gopcevic to Dr. Walter H. Fearn.

"September 1, 1907.

"To unusual detention from 7 p.m., September 1, to 6 a.m., September 29, being continued attendance on P. M. Gopcevic at the request of M. M. Gopcevic, 696 hours, at $10 per hour, $6,960."

According to Dr. Fearn there never has been any reply to this statement, other than occasional small checks. Continued silence on the part of Gopcevic led Fearn to place the matter in the hands of a legal firm, and now, it is stated, a lawsuit is to follow.

"M. M. Gopcevic sent for me and told me not to inform his brother of my visit, but to tell him I was called to see one of the help," said Fearn. "When, on the next morning, when I was ready to leave he wanted me to stay. I explain how much damage it would be to my standing in the community if I did so. He cared nothing for that.

"I explained that it would be an expensive proposition, telling him that detention fees are $10 an hour. He did not care what it would cost, and if I did not stay he would send for some one else in San Francisco and probably his brother would be dead by that time.

"He agreed to pay the fee — I stayed. 'I want you to stay right here,' said M. Gopcevic, 'until my brother is well. I don't care what it's going to cost. Are you afraid you won't get your money?' I then had to stay right there until his brother was well, which was September 29."




Concerning the loss of business sustained, Fearn said: "That enforced absence from my business has been a great loss and made me many enemies in this community, who state that I left them at a critical moment to serve a man with more money, and I have not yet been able to retrieve the ground I lost; so for that sacrifice, the forced detention and loss of business ought to count for something, as my fee is in accordance with the regular charges set by physicians in this state.

"All of this was explained to M. Gopcevic, who insisted on keeping me in his home. I have as witness a nurse and Gopcevic's hired man, who got me, with strict orders not to return without the doctor.

"I had to travel 11 miles across the lake with heavy winds against me, and was always wet though by spray going over in the open launch."

It was while he was gripman at $3 a day on the old Sacramento street cable line Gopcevic met Miss Harry Floyd, a brilliant young heiress, living in Sacramento street. From a casual acquaintance there grew a loving friendship and Gopcevic left his humble job to wed Miss Floyd. A year after marriage the heiress died, leaving her entire estate, valued at more than $900,000, with the exception of a few minor bequests, to her husband. A bitter contest for the beautiful Lake county property followed, but Gopcevic was victorious.

All that he says about Dr. Fearn statement is: "I did it for the love of my brother."


The San Francisco Call, Monday, November 9, 1908, p. 1:3