In re Estate of Border
Pennsylvania Superior Court
68 A.3d 946 (2013)
Russell Border executed an advance directive that included a power of attorney naming his daughter, Renee Vongpathoum, as his agent for healthcare decisions. The directive also included a living will stating that (1) Border generally wanted life-sustaining medical treatment in all situations, (2) these desires were guides and should not be applied strictly, and (3) Border’s agent could withhold life-sustaining treatment if it was in Border’s best interests. Three years later, due to Border’s declining physical and mental health, the county petitioned to have a guardian appointed for Border. The probate court initially appointed Vongpathoum, Border’s healthcare agent, as the guardian of Border’s person. However, after Vongpathoum attempted to remove Border from a nursing home to care for him herself, the probate court revoked her guardianship, revoked Border’s power of attorney, and appointed an attorney, Sharon Gray (defendant), as Border’s guardian. Border’s medical issues eventually caused multiple organ failures, and Border was admitted to a hospital (plaintiff). Border required a ventilator to breathe and had wounds with exposed bone that could not heal and were highly infected. Due to some of Border’s specific issues, the hospital could not give Border adequate pain medication, and he was constantly in pain. Although legally incapacitated, Border communicated to his family that he wanted to be allowed to die. Border’s doctors agreed that Border’s condition was terminal and that continuing treatment would be futile and painful. However, Gray refused to authorize the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, stating that she was strictly following Border’s living-will instructions to continue life-sustaining treatment in all conditions. The hospital petitioned to have Border’s brother replace Gray as Border’s guardian. The probate court found that terminating life-sustaining treatment was in Border’s best interests and granted the petition. Border’s brother immediately authorized withdrawing Border’s life-sustaining treatments, and Border died hours later. Gray appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Olson, J.)
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