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Barber v. Superior Court

California District Court of Appeal
147 Cal. App. 3d 1006, 195 Cal. Rptr. 484 (1983)



Following a surgical procedure, Clarence Herbert suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest while in the recovery room. A team of physicians, including Barber (defendant), were able to revive Herbert and place him on life support. Over the following three days, it was determined that Herbert suffered permanent brain damage, leaving him in a permanent vegetative, coma-like state. Herbert’s physicians informed his family that Herbert’s chances for recovery were very poor. Herbert’s family drafted a written request to hospital personnel requesting that all life-support equipment be removed. Barber and another physician complied with the family’s request and removed the respirator and other life-sustaining equipment. Herbert continued to breathe on his own, but showed no other signs of improvement. After two more days had elapsed, the physicians consulted Herbert’s family and subsequently removed the intravenous tubes providing Herbert with hydration and nutrition. Herbert later died. Barber and the other physician were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder which a magistrate dismissed. The superior court set aside the magistrate’s order and reinstated the complaint. Barber and the other physician then petitioned the court of appeal for review of the superior court’s decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Compton, J.)

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