Father retains control of
A Court of Queen's Bench
judge ruled Friday that a Calgary father will remain administrator of his
daughter's estate, allowing him to pursue a lawsuit on her behalf against the
church he believes caused her death.
After being named
administrator of his daughter Bethany's estate last Aug. 25, Lawrence Hughes
launched a $1-million wrongful death lawsuit on her behalf against the
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, Edmonton's Cross Cancer
Institute, several doctors and several Jehovah's Witnesses.
Bethany's mother, Arliss
Hughes, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and several other defendants
wanted the administration order set aside on the grounds that Lawrence Hughes
had failed to disclose relevant facts when he made his application.
Justice Ged Hawco
refused to set the order aside.
"This has been a
very good day," Lawrence Hughes said outside the courthouse. "My
daughter Bethany will have the opportunity to speak for the very first time
and tell what happened to her. She was a sick, frail child who was pressured,
coerced and brainwashed by the Watchtower Society."
[Lawrence Hughes, in his personal capacity
as well as Administrator of the Estate, is represented by Calgary lawyer
Bethany Hughes died
Sept. 5, 2002, less than six months after a series of blood transfusions she
was given against her wishes. Alberta Children's Services assumed custody of
the girl after she refused conventional treatment for the disease. Lawrence
Hughes, who had been a practising Jehovah's Witness until after Bethany's
diagnosis, also battled to have his daughter receive the transfusions.
Bethany fought the
transfusions, trying to pull the medical tubes from her arms while being
treated at Alberta Children's Hospital.
"If Bethany had
accepted the blood transfusions, she would have been . . . shunned by her
family and all of her friends," Hughes said. "If Bethany had
accepted the blood transfusions, she was taught to believe, God would have
destroyed her at Armageddon."
Arliss Hughes said that
it is unfortunate that Bethany's father "cannot come to grips with the
reality that Bethany's tragic death was due to her terminal leukemia."
"Mr. Hughes and I .
. . were present in court proceedings on July 2, 2002 when Provincial Court
Judge Vickery ruled Bethany's leukemia was terminal and the treatment
recommendation was palliative care without blood transfusions," Hughes
said in a statement. "It is offensive and deeply disturbing for Mr.
Hughes to now blame Bethany's death on me, Bethany's friends, her doctors,
the hospital in Edmonton and our faith."
Justice Hawco said in
his ruling that although there was a failure to disclose some material
information, appointing Lawrence Hughes administrator was appropriate.
alleging that his daughter opposed the transfusions because of the pressures
exerted upon her by the defendants," Hawco said. "No other member
of the family has come forward to vigorously pursue such a claim. Whether
there is a legitimate claim is yet to be determined."
Arliss Hughes, the
Watchtower Society and the other defendants are pursuing an action to strike
Lawrence Hughes' statement of claim, Hawco said, and are entitled to do so.
"Whether the claim
is legitimate or not is a decision to be made by . . . this court on another
day. If I were to grant their application today, they would effectively be
successful in striking the statement of claim without a hearing on the
Calgary Herald 2005
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