Friday, March 25, 2005
Gimme Some Money!
I hope USA Today's offices are located in secure buildings, because the nutjobs will be hopping mad once they see this:
Some of the protesters gathered outside Woodside Hospice here have demonized Michael Schiavo, accusing him of everything from murder to adultery because he lives with a woman and has two toddlers, a daughter and a son, by her. It wasn't always this way, according to a USA TODAY review of voluminous records in the Probate Division of Pinellas County Circuit Court in nearby Clearwater. Those records show that Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers jointly supervised care for Terri after she collapsed. For the first 16 days and nights that she was hospitalized, Schiavo never left the hospital. Over the next few years, as she was moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, to a nursing home, to Schiavo's home and finally back to a nursing home, Schiavo visited Terri daily.But -- but -- the nutjobs all say he neglected her!!! How can this be?!? They wouldn't be LYING to us now, would they?!
Once Terri was unable to help herself, Michael became a demanding advocate. John Pecarek, a court-appointed guardian for Terri, described her husband as "a nursing home administrator's nightmare," adding, "I believe that the ward (Terri) gets care and attention from the staff of Sabal Palms (nursing home) as a result of Mr. Schiavo's advocacy and defending on her behalf." Mary Schindler testified that, while her daughter was at one nursing home, her relationship with her son-in-law was "very good. We did everything together. Wherever he went, I went."Jay Wolfson, the guardian ad litem Jeb Bush appointed in 2003, agrees that Michael Schiavo did everything he could, pursued every therapeutic option his doctors could think of, to help Terri get better. But with so much of her brain destroyed, the years of therapy proved futile. So why did the Schindlers suddenly turn against Michael Schiavo? Why did the people who had invited him into their home for over two years and who he called "Mom" and "Dad" suddenly decide that they hated his guts? Here's a hint, and it has to do with the psychological habit called "projection". Projection occurs when you accuse other people of the very things you yourself do. For years now, the Schindlers and their surrogates in the pro-life movement have been claiming that Michael Schiavo wants Terri to die so he can have the money from her malpractice settlements. But it turns out that what really happened is that on Valentine's Day 1993, the Schindlers had gone to Michael Schiavo demanding he give them a chunk of the money:
On Valentine's Day that year, he [Michael Schiavo] testified, he was in his wife's nursing home room studying. He wanted to become a nurse so he could care for his wife himself. He had taken Terri to California for experimental treatment. A doctor there had placed a stimulator inside Terri's brain and those of other people in vegetative states to try to stimulate still-living but dormant cells. According to Schiavo's testimony, the Schindlers came into Terri's room in the nursing home, spoke to their daughter, then turned to him. "The first words out of my father-in-law's mouth was how much money he was going to get," Schiavo said. "I was, 'What do you mean?' 'Well, you owe me money.' " Schiavo said he told his in-laws that all the money had gone to his wife - a lie he said he told Bob Schindler "to shut him up because he was screaming."Actually, most of the money -- $700,000 -- did go to Terri's medical care fund. Michael got $300,000 for "loss of consortium", meaning loss of the companionship of his wife, who, it was becoming clearer and clearer, was never going to be fully aware ever again.
Schiavo said his father-in-law called him "a few choice words," then stormed out of the room. Schiavo said he started to follow him, but his mother-in-law stepped in front of him, saying, "This is my daughter, our daughter, and we deserve some of this money." Mary Schindler's account of that evening is far different. She testified that she and her husband found Schiavo studying. "We were talking about the money and about his money," she said. "That with his money and the money Terri got, now we could take her (for specialized care) or get some testing done. Do all this stuff. He said he was not going to do it." She said he threw his book and a table against the wall and told them they would never see their daughter again.Well, he either didn't say that or didn't mean it, because they've been able to visit Terri many, many times since then, as the videotapes show. And considering the lies they've been telling about him in the past few years, I tend to see his version of events as a hell of a lot more credible. Either way, one thing is clear: The Schindlers wanted money.
"On Feb. 14, 1993, this amicable relationship between the parties was severed," Greer wrote. "While the testimony differs on what may or may not have been promised to whom and by whom, it is clear to this court that such severance was predicated upon money and the fact that Mr. Schiavo was unwilling to equally divide his loss of consortium award with Mr. and Mrs. Schindler." Daniel Grieco, the attorney who handled Michael Schiavo's malpractice case, says his client never promised money to Bob Schindler. He also said Schindler never understood that he wasn't entitled to money under Florida law. Grieco says the money is at the root of the estrangement. "It was the precipitating factor," Grieco says. "That was the fracture. That was the basis of it."The irony? The $300,000 Michael got is long gone, and Terri's $700,000 trust fund is about to run out. So the Schindlers can't get any money from Michael, anyway. (That's OK -- as Glenn McGee of the New York Institute of Bioethics told Keith Olbermann the other day, their friends in the pro-life movement have been more than making up for that, especially where legal actions are involved.)
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