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Guardianship of Phillip B.

Court of Appeal of California
188 Cal.Rptr. 781 (1983), 188 Cal. Rptr. 781 (1983)


Based on the recommendation of a pediatrician and a social worker, Warren B. and his wife, Patricia, (defendants) institutionalized their 14-year-old son, Phillip B., who had Down’s syndrome. At first, the defendants visited Phillip regularly, but soon the defendants became detached and uninterested in Phillip’s development. Later, Phillip was transferred to We Care, a residential facility for developmentally disabled children. Herbert H. and his wife Patsy (plaintiffs) volunteered at We Care and quickly took an interest in Phillip’s well-being. We Care’s administrator, Jeanne Haight, sought to enroll Phillip in a preschool program that required the consent of Phillip’s parents. The defendants agreed to Phillip’s participation in the program but took no interest in visiting Phillip or inquiring about his developmental progress. The defendants were also reluctant to actively pursue necessary medical treatment for Phillip. As the defendants became more disconnected with their son, Phillip’s emotional and physical relationship with the plaintiffs grew stronger. Eventually, the plaintiffs filed a petition to be appointed as the guardians of Phillip B.’s person and estate. The defendants opposed the petition. After a 12-day trial, the trial court granted the issuance of letters of guardianship to the plaintiffs with the authority to consent on Phillip’s behalf to necessary medical treatment. The defendants appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Racanelli, J.)

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