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Motion called 'garbage' in right-to-die case

Posted By Diana Lynne On 11/14/2002 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

The attorney representing a husband’s right to remove the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife slammed an emergency motion filed on behalf of the woman’s family as “garbage,” calling it a delay tactic purely meant to “obfuscate” and “mislead” the proceedings.

Circuit Judge George Greer is scheduled to rule by Nov. 22 on Michael Schiavo’s petition to remove the feeding tube from 38-year-old Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Michael Schiavo maintains she wouldn’t want to be kept alive through artificial means. Terri’s family disputes the claim and has been fighting a four-year
court battle to block his efforts.

Though severely brain-damaged, Terri breathes and maintains a heart beat and blood pressure on her own. But she needs a feeding tube to sustain her life. Its removal would cause her to die by
dehydration and starvation.

As WorldNetDaily reported, Pat Anderson, the attorney representing the Schindlers filed the emergency motion Tuesday seeking a delay of Judge Greer’s imminent ruling while she develops new medical evidence.

Anderson’s motion referenced the newly discovered report of a total-body nuclear imaging bone scan done on Terri, while she was in a rehabilitation facility 13 months after her brain injury. The report describes the accumulation of contrasting agent, or “hot spots,” that suggest multiple fractures. In the
words of an unnamed physician who reviewed the report: “Somebody worked her over real good.”

Physical abuse or osteoporosis?

Specifically, the March 5, 1991 report notes a compression fracture of her thigh “which is presumably traumatic.” Other “hot spots” are suggestive of fractures in her ribs, the first lumbar vertebra and several thoracic vertebrae, both sacroiliac joints, and both knees and ankles.

The report states, “the patient has a history of trauma” and “the presumption is that the other multiple areas of abnormal activity ["hot spots"] also relate to previous trauma.”

Unnamed physicians who reviewed the report at the request of Anderson conclude Terri was the victim of severe physical abuse.

The emergency motion further asserts that medical records show that Terri has never been evaluated or treated by an orthopedic surgeon for the multiple injuries indicated in the bone scan and that may have a profound bearing on her current medical condition.

Yesterday, George Felos, the attorney representing Michael Schiavo filed a response describing Anderson’s motion as “rife with unattributed hearsay, rank innuendo and libel.”

Felos told WND the rehabilitation facility, Mediplex, followed up the bone scan with an X-ray to verify the cause of the “hot spots.”

“The Mediplex X-ray shows degenerative bone disease, not multiple fractures … and only showed a
minor fracture in the femur,” Felos said. “A possible ‘minor’ compression fraction of the femur occurring
over twelve years ago has no relevance to the issue now before this court,” he further argued in his motion.

The bone-scan report notes Terri suffered from “heterotrophic ossification,” which Anderson’s motion defined as “bone matter that forms around fractures and indicates the fracture was not a fresh fracture.”

Felos defined it as “abnormal calcium growth on some portion of the bones” and, citing medical records, said the ossification was due to osteoporosis, which he said could be explained by the
combination of Terri’s paralysis and the anti-seizure medication she was given.

The bone-scan report speculates an alternative explanation to trauma would be “neoplastic bone disease.”

Conspiracy theories

As WorldNetDaily reported, Terri collapsed at
home on Feb. 25, 1990 at the age of 26. She suffered cardiac arrest and oxygen was cut off to her brain for several minutes. The cause of the cardiac arrest was determined to be a potassium imbalance, although testimony given in last month’s trial suggested Terri also suffered a neck injury.

“I’ve never been satisfied with any explanation of her collapse,” Anderson told WND and said neurologist William Hammesfahr’s testimony about Terri’s “suspiciously rigid neck” prompted her to undertake another examination of the “mountain” of Terri’s medical records.

Felos questions why the medical record, which he states opposing counsel has had in their possession for three years and is frequently referenced by other medical records, is only now being
produced.

In her motion, Anderson also took issue with the thermostat in Terri’s room at Hospice, where she has resided since 2000, being set at 64 degrees, possibly indicating “an intention to deliberately induce pneumonia” which could kill Terri. In addition, Anderson complains of swallowing tests allegedly being
performed on Terri not being reported.

“If, for example, Terri successfully demonstrated a swallowing ability on four occasions and these results were deliberately withheld from Terri’s parents and her attending physician, these facts would indicate a deliberate plan to withhold evidence that Terri is not dependent on a feeding tube and could be spoon-fed and, thus, is not a death candidate by any reading of Florida law,” Anderson argued.

“I find it suspicious that the motion is unsworn and contains hearsay that is unattributed,” Felos told WND. “It charges that Hospice is conspiring to kill Terri … but there are no names for the sources of the information. … The attempt to smear my client and Hospice is reprehensible,” he added.

Judge Greer has scheduled a hearing on the emergency motion for Friday.

Prior rulings

Greer already ruled in favor of Schiavo in February 2000, and Terri’s feeding tube was removed for three days in April 2001 before a series of appeals put his order on hold. An appellate court, after affirming Greer’s ruling in one trial, reversed itself and remanded the case back down to the trial court, essentially
ordering a new trial to determine Terri’s condition, the availability and efficacy of treatments for her and their acceptance within the medical community.

In that trial, held late last month, medical experts petitioned by Felos, as well as a court-appointed neurologist, testified that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, one of the conditions necessary according to state statute to legally permit the removal of her feeding tube.

Physicians solicited by Anderson testified Terri shows cognitive function and would benefit from treatment of her condition.

There is no written directive from Terri. In the 2000 trial, Greer ruled it was her wish to have the feeding tube removed on the basis of testimony by Schiavo, his brother and sister-in-law that she made “casual statements” to them that she would not want to be kept alive artificially.


Earlier stories:

Emergency motion in right-to-die case

Life, death tug of war in Florida courtroom


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