Earlier today, the family of Marlise Munoz announced that John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth had had complied with a court order to remove from life support. While this ends her two-month ordeal, it will be a hollow gesture unless the Munoz family receives assurances that it will bear no financial burden for what JPS has effectively conceded to be unnecessary treatment. Tell JPS that they must not put any burden for this ordeal on Marlise's family.
JPS had been weighing whether to appeal an order issued on Friday to disconnect Marlise from life support. However, the hospital essentially torpedoed any chance of an appeal being successful when its lawyers agreed with the Munoz family's lawyers that Marlise had been brain dead since November 28. In effect, the hospital conceded that it knew Marlise was legally dead under Texas law, and yet kept her on life support anyway in the name of ensuring her fetus was viable. Apparently, someone at JPS realized that with this concession, an appeal would go absolutely nowhere. Even if there was a justifiable reason to maintain life support on a dead person, it strains credulity to suggest that no other means was possible to keep that fetus safe.
To my mind, though, this will be a hollow gesture if the Munoz family has to pay for the costs of keeping Marlise on life support. By conceding that it knew all along Marlise was legally dead, JPS has admitted that two months of medical treatment were completely unnecessary. Making Erick pay for this would only add to the agony that Erick and Marlise's families (both sides of the family backed the quest to turn off life support) have had to endure.
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Mark Geragos. But on Friday's edition of Anderson Cooper 360, he said that Erick Munoz has grounds for one whopper of a civil suit against JPS for desecrating a corpse and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He also said that all indications were the hospital was still planning to follow the normal billing process. No hospital with even an iota of decency would collect on such a bill--especially after admitting in open court that the treatment was futile. If I were Erick, the only way I would even consider not suing would be if he was assured he wouldn't have to pay a penny.
We need to put the heat on this hospital to show some real decency. Sign this petition to the hospital's president, Robert Earley, calling on JPS to not put any financial burden for this on the Munoz family.