Michael Schiavo rejected an offer of $1 million to give up guardianship of his brain-damaged wife – an attempt by a California businessman to save her from court-ordered starvation set to begin next Friday.
George Felos, attorney for the estranged husband, called the offer “offensive,” and said other offers, including one for $10 million, already had been made and rejected.
“Michael has said over and over again that this case is not about money for him,” Felos said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s about carrying out his wife’s wishes. There is no amount of money anyone can offer that will cause him to turn his back on his wife.”
Those caring for Terri Schiavo are scheduled to remove her feeding tube March 18 – for the third time in the last few years – unless a court-approved alternative is found. Michael Schiavo won a court order in 2000 to have her feeding tube removed, claiming she had said she wouldn’t want to live in such a condition. Parents Robert and Mary Schindler, however, insist she has demonstrated a strong will to live, and they have filed a flurry of motions to prevent the tube’s removal – to no avail.
The businessman, Robert Herring Sr., founder of electronics firm HERCO Technology and founder of WEALTHTV, secured the services of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred and announced the million-dollar offer at a press conference yesterday.
“[Terri’s] situation has deeply moved and distressed our client Mr. Herring who has been observing the case in the media, as millions of others have, for about a year,” Allred told reporters.
“He recognizes that unless something is done immediately, Terri Schiavo is not likely to survive very long after March 18. Knowing that time is of the essence and realizing that he is fortunate enough to be able to help, he has decided to take action.”
In a statement, the Schindlers said it was “with tremendous surprise” that they learned yesterday of the offer.
“Written words can simply not express the gratitude our family now feels for Mr. Herring and his most generous offer to save the life of our dear daughter and sister, Terri Schiavo,” the statement said.
The family said, however, they were not at all surprised that Felos, known for advocacy of the “right-to-die” cause, will not allow Michael Schiavo “to entertain the offer.”
“It seems to us that the case law has become far more important to Mr. Felos than making any attempt to mediate the matter outside of the courts,” the Schindlers said.
“It also seems clear to our family that Mr. Schiavo has neither the inclination to discuss the matter with our family – as we have proposed previously – nor the desire to move on with his own life with his new family,” they contined, referring to Schiavo’s two children with fiance Jodi Centonze, with whom he has been living for 10 years.
“After he has denied Terri therapy for so many years and denied our family any opportunity to help her, we can only come to the conclusion that he is not comfortable with the prospects of her regaining her abilities to speak and communicate to us the reasons for her condition.”
Terri Schiavo collapsed under disputed circumstances in 1990, suffering severe brain damage when her heart stopped momentarily. Michael Schiavo attributes the collapse to an eating disorder, but the Schindlers suspect he tried to strangle their daughter and contend that while mentally handicapped, she recognizes people and responds to stimuli.
“Clearly, Terri’s situation has touched the hearts of many people,” the Schindlers said. “Mr. Herring’s generous offer is surely one of the most incredible we’ve seen, but it is also illustrative of how good people can not sit idle when a grave injustice such as this is taking place.”
Herring, a believer in the promise of stem-cell research, said he thinks if Terri is kept alive, her condition could improve.
“After viewing video of Terri on television, I came to the belief that there was hope for her,” Herring said. “As events have proceeded in the legal battle, it became clear to me that if something was not done for Terri, that all hope for her would be lost. …
“I believe very strongly that there are medical advances
happening around the globe that very shortly could have a positive impact on Terri’s condition. I have seen miraculous recoveries occur through the use of stem cells in patients suffering a variety of conditions.”
Herring says he is not affiliated with any group but simply “a private individual who is looking to bring hope to Terri’s family.”
Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.
Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.