I’ve made a donation myself and I hope that you can send any amount via PayPal or postal service. It’s a reasonable fund-raising goal and I think it is very important to support this case. One man against the whole legal apparatus of the Watchtower Society is facing a hard road but there is a chance here for some amount of accountability. Here is the letter from Barbara Anderson:
For those unfamiliar with Lawrence Hughes, he’s a 55-year-old Canadian (Calgary, Alberta) architectural technician whose 16-year-old daughter Bethany was diagnosed in February 2002 with acute myeloid leukemia. The conventional treatment is chemotherapy with blood transfusions, treatment resisted by the Hughes family because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was late afternoon, Feb. 13, 2002, when Lawrence Hughes and his wife were told by the local Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) of Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses Corporate head) had already dispatched lawyers who were on their way to Calgary to represent the family.
In the hospital, Witnesses were standing guard in shifts in Bethany’s hospital room, to make sure no one forced Bethany to take blood, choking the corridor and pressing religious tracts on everybody. Hughes says Watch Tower representatives promised Bethany her resistance would be celebrated in the church publication Awake! That magazine, in the mid-1990s, fed a thirst for martyrdom with a cover showing the smiling photos of 26 “Youths Who Put God first,” by dying after refusing treatment.
After obtaining medical opinions, the Director of Child Welfare appealed to the Provincial Court to gain control of Bethany’s medical treatment. Control was granted on February 18, 2002 and medical treatment commenced over the objections of Bethany. By this time Lawrence Hughes was supportive of the blood transfusion treatment, but his wife was opposed.
The order was appealed but dismissed because the Court concluded that the treatment was in Bethany’s best interests. The Court determined Bethany to be a mature minor and entitled to be consulted, but decided that she was not in a position to make independent decisions about her treatment.
Shane Brady and David Gnam are Watch Tower attorneys and also Jehovah’s Witnesses. They represented Bethany and her mother in the appeal. Hughes endeavored to have them removed as counsel for Bethany on allegations of conflict of interest but was defeated. Brady and Gnam appealed to the Court of Appeal to stop the transfusions, but their appeal was dismissed. Also, leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was refused.
By July 2, 2002, Bethany received some 80 transfusions, but the treatment was not effective and the doctors decided no more transfusions for Bethany. By her insistence, she was discharged from Alberta Children’s Hospital on July 13, 2002 and immediately sought an alternate form of treatment, namely, arsenic trioxide and Vitamin C, at Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton under the care of Drs. Turner and Belch. Bethany died September 5, 2002.
When Lawrence Hughes rejected Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings on blood transfusions and agreed to allow Bethany to undergo transfusions during her chemotherapy treatments, this, in effect, destroyed his marriage and he was shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses. He and his wife divorced, October 2003.
After the court approved Hughes as an administrator of his daughter’s estate, he began litigation in 2004 on behalf of his daughter’s estate and in his own right against: Shane Brady, David Gnam, Merrill Morrell, Thomm Bokor, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, Dr. A. Robert Turner, Dr. Andrew Belch, Cross Cancer Institute, and Alberta Cancer Board in a $1-million wrongful death suit. He alleged, amongst other things, inappropriate treatment of his daughter by the doctors at Cross Cancer institute; a conspiracy to prevent her from getting the proper treatment, and undue influence of his daughter causing her to withhold her consent to appropriate medical treatment.
In February 2006, the Watch Tower Society and its lawyers brought an action to strike out the statement of claim. Subsequently, the court struck out all of Hughes claims. He appealed the decision. On September 1, 2007, the Appeal Court agreed with the lower court except on two major claims—that Hughes has the right to sue the Watch Tower and its attorneys for deceit and misrepresentation; (Hughes contends that it was the attorneys who convinced Bethany, a minor, to go with the arsenic treatment. They misrepresented the benefits of withholding blood transfusions by pointing out to her that chemotherapy/blood transfusion protocol for her leukemia was experimental, which the high court stated was not.) Previously, in the lower court, Hughes had been removed as administrator of Bethany’s estate, but the Appeal Court ruled that Hughes should be restored as administrator. The decisions meant that Hughes could proceed with his legal action on behalf of his daughter’s estate over allegations the church’s influence hastened her death. Part of his argument will be that his daughter’s death certificate states her death was due to arsenic poisoning.
A while back, producers at the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Television Network planned to do a documentary on Lawrence Hughes’s case, but changed their minds when his lawsuit was thrown out. However, when he appealed the lower court decision, and the Court of Appeal overturned the previous decision in Hughes favor, re-instating him as the Administer Ad Litem of his daughter’s estate (being Administrator Ad Litem now gives him certain powers that places him in a good position legally), CBC producers once again contacted him to say they were interested in doing the one hour documentary.
As his daughter’s representative in behalf of her estate, Hughes asked Bethany’s lawyers to give him a list of the documents they possess in her file which relate to the “wrongful death” lawsuit that he has filed against them and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. of Canada, who they also represent. However, the attorneys are claiming Client/Counsel Privilege and refuse to provide an Affidavit of Records or give him pertinent documents. The hearing was April 16th and now he’s waiting for the decision. However, the court did rule Defendants can’t introduce videos taken of Bethany into the next court hearing, May 29th, where their application for Summary Judgment is to be argued.
If Lawrence Hughes loses Summary Judgment, the lawsuit will be dead. This means that CBC may decide not to do a documentary. It is very important that Hughes receive donations to hire an attorney. Hughes, representing himself, was in court as many as five times in the past few months. The attorney who was assisting him is running for political office and no longer has time for Hughes lawsuit. There is a law firm that has expressed interest in representing him but requires a retainer of $5,000. Simply put, Lawrence Hughes is broke and worn out. He has spent nearly $50,000, some of that money being donated. Because the Watchtower lost the decision at the Appeal Court level, under Canadian law the loser has to pay all the other side’s cost of litigation. Within a few months, with an attorney’s assistance, Hughes will be able to collect his past expenses from Watchtower and should be able to carry on with future expenses of the lawsuit without further donations—that is—if he wins Summary Judgment.
Simply put, right now Hughes is not able to pay any attorney a $5,000 retainer, and without the money, an attorney will not take the case. Not having an attorney to represent him means he will most likely lose the court hearing at the end of May. This could end CBC’s interest in doing a one hour documentary for TV.
Lawrence Hughes has pointed out that Bethany’s attorneys are employed by the Toronto law firm, W. Glen How and Associates. In reality, though, this law firm is a front for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the corporate entity used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and headquartered in Georgetown, Ontario. The facts are that Watchtower’s Legal Department is made up of these same attorneys who work with W. Glen How and Associates, and, Attorney, W. Glen How, is an important Jehovah’s Witness in Canada.
For decades, W. Glen How and Associates have been deceiving courts and the public by deliberately misrepresenting themselves as an independent law firm which, they say, occasionally represents Jehovah’s Witnesses. This “independent law firm” assertion is found in their Notice of Motion and, as such, the attorneys with W. Glen How and Associates contend they did not have a conflict of interest when representing Hughes’s daughter and her mother. Although the attorneys are Jehovah’s Witnesses and work with a law firm that was and continues to be a front for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, they claim they gave Lawrence Hughes’s 16-year old Witness daughter and her Witness mother, proper, unbiased legal advice. Hughes discounts this assertion and believes it is important that people write the media in Calgary, Alberta, the Law Society of Alberta and the Law Society of Upper Canada to expose this deception of W. Glen How and Associates.
The following is a list of lawyers that have been involved in this case on behalf of Bethany, her mother, and the Watchtower Society over the past six years. Lawrence expects he will be up against most or all of these lawyers at the May 29th and 30th court hearing:
David Gnam, Watchtower Society (a.k.a.:W. Glen How and Assoc.), Georgetown, Ont.
Shane Brady, Watchtower Society (a.k.a.:W. Glen How and Assoc.), Georgetown, Ont.
John Burns, Watchtower Society (a.k.a.:W. Glen How and Assoc.), Georgetown, Ont.
Daniel Pole, Watchtower Society (a.k.a.:W. Glen How and Assoc.), Georgetown, Ont.
David Day, Lewis Day, St. John’s, Newfoundland
Terry Davis, Parlee McLaws, Calgary, Alberta
Jeremy Hockin, Parlee McLaws, Edmonton, Alberta
Eugene Meehen, Lang Michener, Ottawa, Ontario
Philip Huband, Calgary, Alberta
Allan Ludkiewicz, Ludkiewicz, Bortoluzzi, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Also, two of the largest law firms will be representing the doctors and hospital:
David Steele, Bennet Jones, Calgary, Alberta
Brent Windwick, Field, Calgary, Alberta.
On May 29th and 30th, as usual, Lawrence Hughes expects he will be standing alone on one side of the court room representing himself. On the other side of the court room will be a crowd of lawyers, mostly senior partners in these large firms; the Jehovah’s Witness Lawyers; HLC members, and members of Jehovah Witnesses. As you can see, he is vastly out-numbered. He asks that you pray that he succeeds in this endeavor.
Few people in Hughes’s financial situation can expect to win a lawsuit in Canada against an extremely wealthy religious organization such as the Watchtower Society. However, Hughes has always believed that winning is possible with help from a group of persons. As long as this lawsuit continues, it will mean more ongoing worldwide news coverage exposing the Watchtower Society, which might put enough pressure on them to put an end to their ban on the use of blood transfusions for Jehovah’s
Witness patients in need of such. This would then stop many pointless and unnecessary deaths. And if Hughes wins this lawsuit, it could be instrumental in other people suing the Watchtower for causing loved ones to refuse a life-saving blood transfusion and then die. Thus, this could be another way this religious organization will be forced to change its “blood ban” or go bankrupt from litigation.
Money donated to this cause in the past has helped Lawrence Hughes accomplish so many positive things. He had a land-mark win; and the massive Canadian media coverage about the lawsuit and subsequent victory has been invaluable to show Canadians how harmful this organization’s policies are. Let’s keep up the momentum.
If just 500 people contribute $10.00, Hughes will have the $5,000 necessary for the attorney retainer. Please put $10.00 in an envelope and send it to him. And tell your friends. Just think what we can accomplish together to help this man win his lawsuit! If he does not win, none of us will have lost much money, but we will have the satisfaction that we tried to help.
For those who would like to contribute more, Hughes has set up and registered a
trust fund in the Province of Alberta named, WATCHTOWER LAWSUIT. He also has opened a bank account by that same name and arranged for a chartered registered accountant to do a financial statement each year. Anyone who donates and asks will receive a copy of that statement. As soon as a law firm comes on board, an attorney will take care of the fund. When this lawsuit is won, donations will be returned.
And for the convenience of contributors, a Paypal account has been opened and a donation can be made at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your check or $10 cash money can be mailed to:
Calgary Place RPO
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Barbara Anderson and other friends of Lawrence Hughes
(thanks to Brenda Lee)