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In re Hofbauer

393 N.E.2d 1009 (1979)

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In re Hofbauer

New York Court of Appeals

393 N.E.2d 1009 (1979)

Facts

Joseph Hofbauer was seven years old when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Without treatment, the disease was typically fatal. The standard treatment for the disease was radiation and possibly chemotherapy. However, these treatments carried some risks. Hofbauer’s parents (defendants) decided to take Hofbauer to Jamaica to treat him with nutritional and metabolic therapy that included injections of a laetrile, a controversial substance related to cyanide. When the family returned to New York, state officials (plaintiffs) charged the parents with neglect for failing to provide Hofbauer with adequate medical care for his disease. The family started seeing a New York doctor, Dr. Michael Schachter, to continue Hofbauer’s nutritional and metabolic therapy. Schachter believed that the therapy was helping Hofbauer but claimed that he would recommend more conventional treatments if Hofbauer’s condition worsened significantly. Hofbauer’s father stated that he would follow whatever recommendation Schachter made for Hofbauer. The trial court found that Hofbauer’s parents were (1) loving, (2) trying a type of alternative treatment that multiple doctors would recommend, and (3) pursuing this treatment under a licensed doctor’s recommendation and care. Based on these findings, the trial court ruled that Hofbauer was receiving adequate medical care and that his parents were not neglecting him. An intermediate court affirmed the ruling, and the state appealed to the New York Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jasen, J.)

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