FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man severely disabled by a heart attack died hours before a court hearing Wednesday to determine whether his feeding tube would be removed, lawyers for both sides said.
A Frederick County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case after declaring it moot, abruptly ending a legal skirmish reminiscent of the Terri Schiavo case. Schiavo was a Florida woman with brain damage who died in 2005 after her feeding tube was removed following a 12-year court battle between family members.
The Maryland case involved Daniel Sanger, 55, of Rohrersville. His mother and brother were seeking an injunction requiring Frederick Memorial Hospital to continue providing sustenance through a feeding tube, contrary to his wife’s wishes.
Sanger apparently died of complications from pneumonia and an infected bed sore, his brother Mark Sanger told the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network. The group led by Schiavo’s brother Bobby Schindler had publicly sided with Daniel Sanger’s mother and brother in the case.
Mark Sanger and his mother Phyllis said they were grieving Daniel Sanger’s death. “The family had looked forward to his
recovery and are deeply saddened by the loss,” they said in a statement released by the Schiavo network.
Attorney Alan Winik, representing Sanger’s wife, Leta, said she called him at 7 a.m., two hours before the hearing, to say her husband had died overnight. Winik declined to comment further. He said Leta Sanger would have no public comment.
Bobby Schindler issued a statement blaming Leta Sanger and Frederick County Circuit Judge Theresa Adams for Sanger’s death.
“Daniel suffered and died needlessly at the hands of his wife, who refused to permit physicians to treat his life-threatening
conditions, and by a court that did not allow his family to provide Mr. Sanger proper medical treatment,” Schindler said.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Cox had indicated during a court hearing last week that Sanger might die before Wednesday’s court date. But Judge Adams denied Cox’s motions aimed at getting treatment for Sanger’s infection and other ailments.
Cox released a statement late Wednesday distancing himself from Schindler and the Schiavo Network. He said Schindler’s statement blaming Adams and Leta Sanger for Daniel Sanger’s death was “outrageous.” He pointed out that Adams had issued an order Oct. 20 temporarily restoring the feeding tube several days after Leta Sanger had had it removed.
“Neither Mr. Schindler or the Schiavo Foundation have had any involvement in this litigation to my knowledge and I have never even spoken with Mr. Schindler or his foundation,” Cox said.
Daniel Sanger was an unemployed computer technician. He lost much of his speaking ability and mobility after a heart attack in July, according to his brother Mark.
Cox is a member of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based legal network that was also involved in Schiavo’s case.
Phyllis Sanger lives in Colonial Beach, Va.; Mark Sanger is from Eugene, Ore.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)