Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guardianship of Schiavo case brief

Guardianship of Schiavo case brief summary
780 So.2d 176 (2001)

Appellee, the husband and guardian of a patient in a persistent vegetative state, petitioned the Circuit Court for Pinellas County (Florida) for an order authorizing the discontinuance of artificial life support to the patient. The trial court granted the order and appellants, the patient's parents, appealed.


The patient fell into a persistent vegetative state after a cardiac arrest and had remained in that state for 10 years. Her brain had severely deteriorated. A medical malpractice suit had resulted in a sizable award which would be inherited by appellee upon the patient's death, but the trial court discounted any concern that monetary gain was involved in the parties' dispute.


  • The appellate court found that the trial court's decision to permit termination of life support was supported by clear and convincing evidence. 
  • The trial court did not abuse its discretion by proceeding without a guardian ad litem and did not give undue weight to testimony concerning surveys on attitudes about the decision to discontinue life-support systems. 
  • The patient's statements to friends and family and other evidence about her gave the trial court a sufficient basis for its decision.

The trial court's order was affirmed. The trial court had clear and convincing evidence to support its decision authorizing termination of life support.

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