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Doctor caught in family dispute dies

Dr. Harvey R. Goldstein, the Amherst physician who became embroiled in a dispute that resulted in turning off the heat in a home where his ex-wife and their five children lived, died during surgery this week.

Goldstein, 55, was undergoing a hip replacement Monday when he went into cardiac arrest, according to Patrick C. O'Reilly, the attorney who represented the doctor in just-completed divorce proceedings.

The doctor's ex-wife and children were shocked by his sudden death, according to James P. Renda, the lawyer representing Eileen Goldstein in the divorce and her battle to get the heat turned back on in the family's LeBrun Circle home in Amherst.

"This is a tragic situation. Divorce devastates spousal relationships. Divorce devastates children. The death of a parent devastates children. These children have suffered both," Renda said Tuesday. "His children and their mother mourn his loss, and he will be missed by them."

O'Reilly added that the doctor's passing is compounded by the trying situation that occurred in the days before he died.

"It was a sad thing that this was the last interaction Harvey had with his family," O'Reilly said of the utility shut-off. "It was just one big misunderstanding."

After the divorce settlement was reached in court late last month, the doctor had contacted National Fuel Gas to discontinue the utility service in his name. As a result, the gas was shut off Friday and his family was left without heat for part of the weekend.

Eileen Goldstein and Renda had contacted The Buffalo News Saturday to complain that the doctor had National Fuel turn off service and that utility representatives told them the heat would have to remain off until Monday when the company's offices opened for business.

Eileen Goldstein said she had enough money to pay for the service and did not understand why the utility refused to start an account in her name during the weekend.

After The News contacted National Fuel, the utility turned the gas back on Saturday evening.

O'Reilly, who described Dr. Goldstein as a "very well-intentioned person who did what was fair and reasonable," said the divorce settlement provides ample funds to support the doctor's ex-wife and their children.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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