Minnesota Supreme Court Accepts Review of Tschumy Case

The Minnesota Supreme Court has granted review of the case of In Re: Guardianship of Jeffers Tschumy.  The question before the Court is essentially:  Does a guardian have authority to remove a ward from life support without seeking the specific authority of the district court?

Factual Background:  A guardian was appointed for Tschumy in 2008.  He was not married and had no family.  In 2012 Tschumy choked on a piece of food and as a result suffered severe brain injury and became comotose.  His professional guardian, Joseph Vogel, wanted to remove him from life support.  Allina hospital petitioned the district court asking the Court to amend the letters to give the guardian the specific authority to end life support or for the Court to direct the removal of life support.  The guardian agreed that life support should be removed, but believed that he already had authority under the statute and court order appointing him, which allowed him to withdraw medical consent. The district court agreed with Allina and ordered the guardian to have life support removed.  Tschumy died.  The district court then issued a follow up order, with a more detailed explanation, reasoning that although guardians have broad power to withhold consent to medical treatment, they do not have statutory authority to end life support without a court hearing and court direction. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court order, holding that final authority on end of life decision making lies with the guardian and should not be directed by the district court.

A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court is expected in 2014.