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In re The Guardianship of Theresa Marie Schiavo
Florida Circuit Court
2000 WL 34546715 (2000)
Terri Schindler grew up in a close family in New Jersey. Terri met Michael Schiavo (plaintiff) and dated him for two years before they wed. Michael and Terri Schiavo moved to Florida, and Terri’s parents and sister followed. Terri began treatment with physicians for an undisclosed condition. Terri suffered cardiac arrest apparently due to a systemic potassium imbalance. Michael called 911, the paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and took Terri to the hospital, and Terri never regained consciousness. Terri remained in a comatose, vegetative state at a nursing home with nourishment and hydration delivered through a feeding tube. Over eight years after Terri’s cardiac arrest, Michael filed a petition as Terri’s guardian for authority to discontinue artificial life support and suggested the appointment of a guardian ad litem. The court appointed a guardian ad litem for Terri. The guardian ad litem (defendant) filed a report finding that Michael’s testimony did not provide clear and convincing evidence of Terri’s intent concerning the life-support decisions that she would have made for herself in the circumstances. The case was tried without a jury. The court heard testimony from Michael’s brother and sister-in-law stating that Terri had verbally expressed to them her wish not to be kept alive artificially. Michael requested the authority as a surrogate decision maker for an incapacitated patient under Florida law to exercise substituted judgment to discontinue Terri’s artificial life support as a decision she would choose for herself.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Greer, J.)
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