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More than two years after 19-year-old Grace Schara died following treatment for COVID-19, a Wisconsin circuit court judge ruled that her father’s wrongful death lawsuit against Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin can go forward.
Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Mark J. McGinnis last month rejected all motions by hospital lawyers to dismiss charges by Scott Schara that his daughter died from intentional battery by doctors and nurses.
Schara in April sued Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital personnel alleging that they committed medical battery against his daughter — a legal standard doctors don’t typically face — which led to Grace’s wrongful death on Oct. 13, 2021.
According to the complaint, doctors and nurses defied the informed consent law, “fraudulently labeled [his daughter] as a DNR [Do Not Resuscitate] patient, administered a lethal drug cocktail known to kill” and blocked attempts to save the girl’s life.
Due to hospital protocols, Schara said, his daughter was given a knowingly lethal blend of drugs without informed consent from him or Grace’s mother, Cindy Schara, who possessed Grace’s legal and medical power of attorney.
When Schara protested, he was escorted out of the hospital by an armed guard, and he and his wife were forced to watch their daughter die on FaceTime.
An emotional Schara went on CHD.TV, the TV channel of Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD), this month, jubilant over his court victory. He told “Good Morning CHD” co-host Polly Tommey what happened to his daughter.
“Instead of treating Grace to save her life, they used a combination of meds, Precedex, lorazepam and morphine — which is what you give people when they’re in hospice care to euthanize them in their last hour of life,” Schara said. “And they gave Grace that combination of meds in a 29-minute window.”
“To set up the kill, they put — the doctor put — an illegal do-not-resuscitate order on Grace’s chart,” he continued. “So when it came time to revive her, the doctors and nurses wouldn’t even step foot in the room.”
In July, Judge McGinnis set aside three weeks for the trial to begin on Nov. 4, 2024, the day before the U.S. presidential election.
But McGinnis asked the plaintiffs to submit an amended complaint making the case that charges of battery, a charge that would not be covered under traditional malpractice insurance, should go forward to trial.
Schara’s victory on Oct. 30 will allow the charge of battery — a standard of intentional harm by doctors and other providers beyond medical negligence — to be considered at trial, making this a potential landmark case.
In addition to Ascension Hospital System, the largest Catholic hospital system in the U.S., Schara sued five doctors, two registered nurses and four “John Doe” medical providers alleging the hospital’s COVID-19 treatment protocols caused his daughter’s death.
The jury will now have the ability to decide whether the hospital and its doctors and nurses did not merely violate laws to provide patient informed consent, but also committed battery.
The court accepted the distinction laid out in Schara’s legal brief.
“Imagine a physician who fails to fully inform a patient about the risks of a leg amputation, but the patient does agree to have his leg amputated,” the brief stated.“This violates the duty to obtain informed consent under Wis. Stat.§ 448.30.”
But “now imagine a physician who amputates a patient’s leg without obtaining consent or telling the patient or the patient’s family what he is doing (and, in this case, removing the patient’s power of attorney and parent from the hospital first). That is a battery.”
Dr. Meryl Nass, a member of CHD’s scientific advisory committee, told The Defender Schara had presented “a landmark case, and we all need to cross our fingers that he wins.”
“He has great documentation,” Nass said. “This was medical professionals, acting against all of their ethical obligations and harming a very functional young woman, who was able to drive and play violin, even though she had Down syndrome.”
Schara said the ruling that opens the door to physician battery could lead to historic reforms of doctors’ legal exposure for patient deaths.
“Our case simply surviving today should send shockwaves across the nation, because we showed how to pierce the medical malpractice veil with a legal brief,” he added. “Winning this claim will create a tidal wave.”
‘Grace’s death is one of many’
Schara has worked tirelessly to call attention to his daughter’s death and his lawsuit.
In addition to employing a legal team led by Warner Mendenhall, he created two websites about her case, Our Amazing Grace and graceschara.com, including videos about her playful personality, her love of horseback riding and Elvis. He calls his daughter “my best friend.”
Mendenhall, who appeared with Schara on “Good Morning CHD,” said Schara was “actually helping to carve a pathway for other families” that “is so important for attorneys and families to understand … Getting through this opens the doorway for you and for other people all around the country. And there’s a great many more.”
Schara has spent thousands of hours researching what he calls “medical murder.”
Medical malpractice has surpassed heart disease and cancer during the COVID-19 era, he said, as “the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S.”
Schara produced a documentary, “Breaking the Oath: Unauthorized,” chronicling Grace’s and other victims’ stories and calling on people to “once again sacrifice for the future of humanity” and step forward in an historic effort to stop it.
“Grace’s death is one of many,” he said.
Schara also launched a podcast, “Deprogramming with Grace’s Dad,” in which he acknowledges that his daughter’s death led him “to discovering he has been programmed to believe things that are not true” about the healthcare system, and urges his audience “to open eyes and hearts to start the process of deprogramming yourself.”
‘Case is about something much bigger than mere malpractice’
Schara said his most important message, the key point of his lawsuit, is to overturn “a legislative immunity” that surrounds the medical profession and that people don’t understand.
“The state statutes want to put lack of informed consent as a medical malpractice claim, but it also gives the doctors an out in paying for their fees because they have medical malpractice liability insurance that covers their legal fees.”
As outlined in the legal brief, Schara said hospital lawyers “want this court to rule that a patient with Down syndrome can be intentionally restrained, intentionally deprived of advocacy and intentionally administered deadly sedatives all without consent. And these actions are simple medical negligence.”
As a result, Schara said, “Defendants envision a world where there is no common law claim for the failure of a healthcare provider to obtain consent that falls outside of medical malpractice. In this world, an unethical financially motivated physician may administer deadly drugs without consent for malign purposes, including making room for new patients.”
At a critical moment in the case, Schara said, the defense moved to dismiss Schara’s wrongful death charges and dismiss the case, arguing that his claim should be covered under medical malpractice.
Hospital lawyers also moved to dismiss Schara’s request for a declaratory judgment regarding the illegal DNR, arguing that “The issue is moot, because Grace Schara, the subject of the order, is deceased.”
“This bellwether case is about something much bigger than mere malpractice, and its impact will reverberate nationally,” Schara said.
“Our goal is simple: Save lives. That’s why this case is first about the lack of informed consent — a battery — leading to negligence and malpractice, which then resulted in wrongful death.”
“Moreover, this case is about protecting the public from doctors unilaterally placing DNR orders on patients,” he said. “If we would have had informed consent, Grace would be with us today.”
This article was updated to state that Grace Schara died more than two years ago, not more than three years ago as originally stated.