Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Against "Terri’s Law" Denied

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 8, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Against "Terri’s Law" Denied

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 8, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL ( — A judge has thrown out Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Terri’s estranged husband Michael Schiavo in an attempt to overturn Terri’s Law. Bush’s attorneys hoped to have it dismissed on technicalities.

Pinellas Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird said Michael’s lawsuit was filed in the proper county.

Bush’s attorneys say it should have been filed in Tallahassee, the state capital and the place where the law was enacted, rather than in Pinellas County, where Terri is living at a hospice.

Baird’s decision means Bush’s attorneys have until the end of the day on Monday to file a brief in response to Michael’s lawsuit.

Bush spokesman Jacob DiPietre said Bush’s attorneys were reviewing Baird’s order and would make recommendations to the governor when they finish.

"We are confident that once the case is properly before the court the law will be found constitutional," DiPietre told the Associated Press. The governor is committed to upholding the state constitution and to protecting all Florida citizens’ rights to life, especially those who are the most vulnerable."

Michael’s attorney George Felos, an assisted suicide advocate, said Bush consented to the jurisdiction of the lawsuit when his attorneys participated in a late-night telephone conference with the judge the day the lawsuit was filed.

The ACLU has been aided Michael’s legal efforts.

Last month the Florida legislature passed Terri’s Law, which allowed Bush to ask doctors to reinsert the feeding tube that is allowing Terri to live.

Terri became severely disabled following questionable circumstances, though she is not in a coma or persistent vegetative state. Although Michael has refused to allow any money from a $1.3 million medical malpractice award to be used for Terri’s medical care or rehabilitation since her collapse, doctors for Terri’s family say there is still chance her condition could improve with proper care.