The Triangle - Ed-Op
Schindler family attorney responds to columnist
By Pat Anderson
I read Vivek Thuppil's column concerning the Terri Schiavo case ("Republicans
use Schiavo case for political advancement," The Triangle, April 29, p. 15). It
makes for compelling reading, assuming it is fact-based.
However, as the Schindler family attorney for a number of years, I can tell you
Mr. Thuppil's fact-assumptions are not accurate.
Consider these assumptions, for which there is factual support: Terri collapsed
in February, 1990 of unknown reasons. She did not have a heart attack. Her tox
screen was negative. No doctor ever diagnosed her with bulimia. She collapsed in
the early morning hours on a Sunday morning, alone with Michael. They had a big
argument on Saturday afternoon before he went to work, because she had spent $80
at the hairdresser.
In March, 1991, just 53 weeks after her collapse -- slightly more than a year --
a total-body bone scan revealed numerous traumatic injuries to her skeleton,
including a fractured lumbar vertebra and an unusual injury to her right thigh
bone. The radiologist who read the scan concluded all of her skeletal injuries
were presumably of traumatic origin.
Under oath, he said the right thigh injury could only have been caused by a
sharp blow or kick. He also testified that these types of injuries were visible
on a bone scan for 12 to 18 months. That is, on March 5, 1991, the date the bone
scan was done, her injuries would have been sustained sometime in the period
from September, 1989 to February, 1990.
During his testimony to a medical malpractice jury in November, 1992, Michael
testified that he intended to honor his wedding vows (he did not tell the jury
he was dating at least two other women at the time) and intended to take care of
Terri the rest of his life. He presented an expert who testified that, in fact,
Terri would have a normal life span. Michael did not tell that jury that Terri
would rather be dead than disabled, curiously enough. Incidentally, contrary to
Mr. Thuppil's assumption, traumatic brain injury is not a terminal disease. She
had no terminal disease. Terri was simply brain-damaged.
About three months after that testimony, Michael got the money from the medical
malpractice case and stopped speaking to the Schindlers or allowing them any
information about their daughter. From time to time, he even cut off their right
to visit their daughter.
About seven months after that testimony, in June or July, 1993, Terri developed
an infection, and Michael ordered her caregivers to withhold antibiotics from
her. Later that year, in November, 1993, he gave a sworn deposition in which he
said he had done so at a doctor's suggestion and he expected her to die of the
infection. This testimony was just one year after he had told that malpractice
jury he intended to care for Terri the rest of his life, so we can conclude from
this that Michael is capable of lying under oath.
In that same November, 1993 deposition, Michael said he could withhold
antibiotics for an infection, but in speaking of removing her feeding tube, he
"could not do that to Terri."
In about 1995, Michael began living with Jodi Centonze. He had other
girlfriends, but this romance was serious. They had two children together, even
though he was married to Terri.
Assume if you will that everything I have written above is taken from the
records of the case (of which it is) and apply your own common sense in
analyzing the following question: Did Michael and his two relatives fabricate
Terri's wish to be dead, because he wanted to "get on with his life" as you call
it and she just would not die on her own?
Pat Anderson was the Schindler family attorney, parents of Terri Schiavo, from
April 2001 to September 2004.
Schindler family attorney responds to columnist - The Triangle - Ed-Op
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