A half-dozen protesters picketed in front of Court of Queen?s Bench on Tuesday to support a Calgary man who has sued the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada and others for being responsible for his daughter?s death. Inside the court, a hearing by the society, Edmonton?s Cross Cancer Institute, two doctors and several Jehovah?s Witnesses to have Lawrence Hughes? $1-million statement of claim quashed was eventually adjourned.
Lawyers will be back in court today to set a new date for the hearing.
?I believe the evidence I have will prove there was a conspiracy that brought about the death of my daughter,? Hughes said outside court.
?Bethany was given medical treatment for a disease she did not have. I believe evidence will prove criminal negligence.?
Bethany Hughes, 17, died Sept. 5, 2002, less than six months after she underwent a series of blood transfusions against her wishes after Alberta Children?s Services took custody of her when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
Hughes also accused the Watch Tower Society of protecting pedophiles in its fellowship; forcing its members to work in ?slavery,? without being paid, then turned onto the streets when old; and giving out bad medical advice to its members. In particular, Hughes, once a Jehovah?s Witness who split from the religion and his family over the medical beliefs, cited the group refusing vaccinations, organ transplants and blood transfusions for members, that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of adults and children in the past 100 years.
Allan Ludkiewicz, the Winnipeg lawyer for the Watch Tower Society fighting Hughes? lawsuit, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. But after a similar protest last week at the society?s Canadian headquarters for Jehovah?s Witnesses in Georgetown, Ont., a spokesman denied Hughes? blanket claims.
Mark Ruge, director of public relations for the organization, said they had not yet been served with the lawsuit filed in August. He told reporters that Hughes ?can say whatever he wants,? but there was no truth to the claims. ?We?re not that kind of people,? he added, calling the claims ?outrageous.? Hughes said he now has his daughter?s medical records to prove his case. ?I believe the Watch Tower Society was afraid because Bethany?s health was improving and she may be forced to be given blood transfusions, so that?s why they hid her away for the last two months,? said the father. ?It makes me sick to think Bethany could be alive today if they had given her proper medical treatment.?
ALSo: Witness suit referred
DARYL SLADE CALGARY HERALD
A judge has recommended case management for the wrongful death lawsuit filed by a father who claims the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is responsible for his teenage daughter Bethany's death.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Barbara Romaine said during a hearing Wednesday that she will refer her recommendation to have a judge appointed to shepherd through the case to Associate Chief Justice Allen Sulatycky for consideration.
Romaine then set aside three days starting Feb. 22 to hear an application by Allan Ludkiewicz, lawyer for the defendants, to strike the statement of claim filed by Lawrence Hughes in August.
Hughes filed the claim against the Society, Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute, two doctors and several Jehovah's Witnesses, saying the Jehovah's Witness church's policy against blood transfusions prompted the death of the 17-year-old girl from acute myeloid leukemia on Sept. 5, 2002.
Vaughn Marshall, Hughes' lawyer, said outside court he agreed case management was the most sensible route.
"Given all of the court activity during the guardianship proceedings in Bethany in 2002, where 26 separate applications were made, this lawsuit cries for case management," said Marshall.
The lawyer also said he was confident the application to quash the lawsuit will be defeated.
Bethany Hughes, 17, died less than six months after she underwent a series of blood transfusions against her wishes after Alberta Child Services took custody of her when she was diagnosed with leukemia.
DSLADE @ THEHERALD . CANWEST . COM