What Lies Beneath…
…the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic’s ruthless and ever-expanding physical footprint?
Indisputable evidence of an egregious wrong that should have been righted a long time ago.
Decades ago, the two reigning institutional Goliaths in the City of Cleveland, University Circle Incorporated (UCI) and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation joined forces and initiated plans to form an alliance to create a sprawling medical-educational metropolis and become one of the most dominant medical facilities in the country. Included in this mega-billion-dollar project was a far-reaching and prodigious plan to expand the world-renown Cleveland Clinic’s campus and connect it with Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, essentially creating their own private driveway. The only “temporary obstacle” to their master plan was a strategically located strip of land and properties with twenty-eight wildly successful and thriving businesses perched right in the middle of the proposed expansion project. But this prime Euclid Avenue strip was owned and operated by a brilliant young black entrepreneur named Winston E. Willis who quickly proved himself to be a formidable force in his own right. To further complicate matters, this shrewd and savvy self-made millionaire businessman who had exhibited remarkable business acumen and a unique flair for acquiring real estate, also owned and controlled several other businesses and key parcels of land up and down Euclid Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. Not only was young Winston in their way, he was also a fearless and unique presence in their previously racially-restricted community. And in classic David and Goliath tradition, he stood alone, going toe-to-toe with his powerful adversaries in local courts to defend and protect his properties from the continuing thefts. And in July of 1977, as reported in front-page Plain Dealer headlines, he filed a $100 Million Dollar lawsuit against the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, University Circle (UCI) and others, charging that they were monopolizing real estate and violating antitrust laws.
With the clerical and editorial assistance of his sister, Aundra Willis Carrasco a writer living in California at the time, Willis courageously fought his powerful and corrupt adversaries for decades. All the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2007, but several months after his case was accepted and docketed by the high court, he received notice that it had been denied. SEE: The Closed Doors of Justice.
Several years later, Willis’ sister wrote to President Barack Obama, and to his credit, he responded and ordered HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the local field offices and governmental agencies involved in the takings of Winston’s properties to re-examine the matter. But even after being directed by the president to do so, HUD and several government agencies continued to engage in such buck-passing activities as flat out stonewalling and referring Willis to the HUD office in Northern California, even though his properties are located in Cleveland.
Although he has been consistently denied justice for so many years, Winston Willis continues to remain engaged in his decades-long fight and devise legal strategies to keep it going. At the age of 81, even while in fragile physical health he has not given up hope.