Friday, March 25, 2005

Schiavo family feud

USA Today has a story on the feud between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers.

Some intersting quotes:

Some of the protesters gathered outside Woodside Hospice here have demonized Michael Schiavo, accusing him of everything from murder to adultery because he lives with a woman and has two toddlers, a daughter and a son, by her.

At least USA mentions that Michael lives with another woman and has children with her. Many stories point out that Michael is Terri's husband but forget to mention his current family situation (which I think is something that most people would deem important). But "accusing him" of adultery? That's like saying Osama Bin Laden is "accused of" planning the 9/11 terrorists attacks or that Michael Moore has "been accused" of being against the War in Iraq. How about "pointing out" instead of "accusing."

The article then goes on to discuss the differing accounts of the rift between Michael and the Schindlers. Michael says that the Schindlers wanted some of the $300,000 Michael was awarded for the "loss" of Terri. The Schindlers claim that Michael refused to use the money ($700,000) he won to rehabiliate and care Terri to rehabiliate and care for her.

The article continues with what seems to be a quote from a ruling by Judge Greer in 2000.

"On Feb. 14, 1993, this amicable relationship between the parties was severed," Greer wrote. "While the testimony differs on what may or may not have been promised to whom and by whom, it is clear to this court that such severance was predicated upon money and the fact that Mr. Schiavo was unwilling to equally divide his loss of consortium award with Mr. and Mrs. Schindler."

It is clear? Two opposing testimonies and it is clear that one is true and the other is false? This strikes as odd considering that Michael never used the money he won to rehabiliate Terri. Something that should have been evident 7 years after the incident. After the money was awarded to Michael for Terri's care she was denied rehabiliative treatment, Michael put a DNR order on her chart, and didn't want her treated for an infection. It seems quite unusual when that 7 years after the disagreement that Greer could be clear that Michael was telling the truth while the Schindlers were lying, espcailly when the money Michael promised to rehabiliate Terri was never used for that and that Terri's parents were spending their own money fighting to keep Terri alive.

The more I read about Judge Greer's rulings, the more I realize how flimsy the evidence was. Read later on in the article how Greer ruled that Terri would have wished to have her feeding tube removed based on the hearsay testimony of Michael, Michael's brother, and Michael's sister-in-law vs. the hearsay testimony of Terri's mother and one of Terri's childhood friends. Terri is dying of dehydration and lack of nutrition because Judge Greer believed one story over another even though there is absolutely no conclusive evidence either way.

Another interesting quote:

Today, the money from the lawsuit settlement is almost gone, Grieco, the attorney, says. Just $40,000 to $50,000 remained as of mid-March. The $700,000 in Terri's trust has paid for her care, lawyers, expert medical witnesses. Michael Schiavo's $300,000 share evaporated years ago, he says.

Maybe the story should mention that most of the money has gone to lawyers, specifically George Felos, who aren't Terri's lawyers but are Michael's lawyers working for Michael and on his behalf. Putting care first could lead readers to think that the largest portion has gone to caring for Terri when that is not the case.

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