The Catholic Bishops of Colorado Respond to Hospitals’ Claim of Unborn Twins Personhood UPDATED

File photo: Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila

A couple of days ago, my blog neighbor Deacon Greg Kandra shared a news item about a Catholic hospital in Colorado that is a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. The story is noteworthy because the Catholic hospitals’ legal defense team argued that while the patient (who died seven years ago), Lori Stodghill, was indisputably a person, they noted that under Colorado law, her unborn twins, 28 weeks of gestation at the time of death,  are not considered persons.

As you might imagine, given the Catholic Church’s belief that human life, and thus personhood, begins at conception, this line of defense has been seen as a controversial one. Another of my blog neighbors, Mark Shea, stated it like this: Catholic Hospital Fights for Thirty Pieces of Silver.

Yesterday, chancellor J.D. Flynn of the Archdiocese of Denver published the following press release regarding this case.

The Catholic bishops of Colorado learned recently of the deaths of Lori Stodghill and her two unborn children, which took place at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colo. in 2006. We wish to extend our solidarity and sympathy to Lori’s husband Jeremy, and her daughter, Elizabeth. Please be assured of our ongoing prayers.

From the moment of conception, human beings are endowed with dignity and with fundamental rights, the most foundational of which is life.

Catholics and Catholic institutions have the duty to protect and foster human life, and to witness to the dignity of the human person—particularly to the dignity of the unborn. No Catholic institution may legitimately work to undermine fundamental human dignity.

Catholic Health Initiatives is a Catholic institution which provides health care services in 14 states, providing care to thousands of people annually. Catholic Health Initiatives has been accused by some of undermining the Catholic position on human life in the course of litigation. Today, representatives of Catholic Health Initiatives assured us of their intention to observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic bishops of Colorado are not able to comment on ongoing legal disputes.  However, we will undertake a full review of this litigation, and of the policies and practices of Catholic Health Initiatives to ensure fidelity and faithful witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L., Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver

Most Rev. Michael Sheridan, S.Th.D, Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs

Most Rev. Fernando Isern, Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo

Here is why this lawsuit matters. As it turns out, in part because of the hospitals’ counsel pointing out the fact that under Colorado law a fetus is not considered a person, the Colorado Supreme Court may have to tackle the issue of personhood head-on.

Although the Church believes and teaches that life, and by extension personhood, begins at conception, the legal framework under which this lawsuit must be decided is that of the state where the case is being tried. The legal system of Colorado, and precedents established in case law there, are what matters in the adjudication of this case. Thus the definition of personhood, and whether a fetus is recognized as a person or not, matters in this case not so much because the Church, and a hospital operating as one of her agents, believes a fetus is a person, but because Colorado doesn’t recognize this as the law reads currently. Thus the nuance of the seemingly hypocritical argument by lawyers that the hospital can’t be sued for the wrongful death of patients that the state doesn’t recognize as persons, gets lost in the brouhahah.

Melanie Asmar, writing for Denver Westword News, gives the best in-depth report on this case that I have seen. In an article published yesterday entitled, Is A Fetus A Person? The Colorado Supreme Court May Have to Decide, the twists and turns that have occurred over the years since Lori, and her twins, passed on to eternity, are painstakingly detailed by Asmar below. Though she was not able to get comments from the attorneys of the doctors (Dr. Pelner, and Dr. Staples), or the hospital that are involved in the case (or from the Archdiocese), she spoke with scholars from both within the Catholic tradition, and outside of it, to put together the following recap of the case to date.

The doctrine of the Catholic Church is clear: Fetuses are life, and life must be protected.

“We treat life as if it begins at conception and continues until natural death,” says Sister Peg Maloney, a member of the religious-studies faculty at Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver. Because Catholics believe unborn babies are people, “it’s a belief that certainly there was more than one patient involved in this case,” Maloney adds.

…The Diocese of Pueblo, which covers Cañon City, likewise refused to answer questions about Catholic Health Initiatives’ argument. Instead, a spokeswoman referred us to the Colorado Catholic Conference, which describes itself as “a united voice of the three Catholic dioceses [that] speaks on public policy issues.” But a spokeswoman for that organization did not return phone calls or e-mails. The Catholic Health Association of the United States also declined to weigh in: “We will pass on an interview,” a spokesman wrote in an e-mail.

But many answers can be found in a guide to moral issues in Catholic health care that is published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Called “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” the most recent edition was released in 2009 and includes an entire section on the beginning of life.

“The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn and the care of women and their children during and after pregnancy,” the guide says.

The guide goes on to list dos and don’ts for health-care providers. Do encourage natural family planning. Don’t allow the use of contraceptives. Do counsel couples toward adoption. Don’t offer “reproductive technologies that substitute for the marriage act.” Never perform an abortion. Never perform a vasectomy. Always provide prenatal care to expectant mothers. Do induce labor if the mother is suffering from a medical condition and the baby is viable.

Given those beliefs, Catholic Health Initiatives’ legal argument is hypocritical, says Miguel De La Torre, a professor of social ethics at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology. “What they should be arguing is, ‘Oh, no, all life, from the moment of conception, is life and therefore must be protected,’” De La Torre says. “When you establish yourself in this culture as a moral voice, even when it works against you, you have to maintain that moral voice.”

But Sister Maloney says that the intersection of religious beliefs and law isn’t that simple.

The hospital’s attorneys aren’t “trying to argue whether unborn children should be recognized as persons,” she says. “They’re just arguing that they are not in Colorado law.”

She points out that Colorado voters have twice rejected, in 2008 and 2010, so-called personhood amendments that would have defined the word “person” as indicating any human being from the moment of conception. Catholic leaders didn’t support the pro-life measures because they didn’t think a constitutional amendment was the solution.

“We remain committed to defending all human life from conception to natural death,” the archbishop of Denver and the bishops of Pueblo and Colorado Springs wrote in a joint statement in 2008. But, they added, “even if this year’s personhood amendment is passed in Colorado, lower federal courts interpreting this amendment will be required to apply the permissive 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The bishops have, however, supported other measures to protect the unborn, including efforts to increase penalties for attacks on pregnant women and a bill to require pregnant women seeking abortions to be notified that they can first have an ultrasound. For the past five years, the Colorado Catholic Conference has supported bills to make killing a fetus illegal.

Still, University of Denver law professor Tom Russell believes that the hospital’s argument is legally sound. “All they’re doing is saying here’s what the legislature said,” says Russell, a torts specialist. “It might make some people within the church uncomfortable, but legally, it’s not in any way problematic.”

But David Weddle, a religion professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, says that while the hospital is free to make any legal argument it wants, the question is “whether it’s morally justifiable to defend yourself on a principle you know to be false.

“It would send a very strong message if this hospital were to say, ‘We are not legally liable here, but we accept responsibility because we believe that these fetuses were persons,’” Weddle continues. “That’s the only consistent argument the church can make.”


(Drs.) Pelner and Staples soon joined Catholic Health Initiatives in its argument, and also noted that Colorado’s wrongful-death law simply says that survivors can seek compensation for the wrongful death of “a person.” It makes no mention of fetuses.

To be considered a person, the lawyers argued, a baby has to be born alive. As proof, they cited a 2008 case in which doctors performed a C-section on a woman who was five months pregnant when she was in a car accident that caused her placenta to detach from the uterine wall. A Colorado appeals court ruled that she could sue the driver who caused the crash because the premature baby lived briefly — even if it was only for an hour and six minutes.

Jeremy’s lawyers think the hospital’s argument twists the purpose of the wrongful-death law. The point of the law is to make sure that someone who injures another person so badly that he dies doesn’t get away with it because the victim is no longer alive to take him to court.

“What we’re saying is if you have a viable fetus — and there’s no question in this case that these babies were viable — and a doctor negligently causes their death, that the surviving parents ought to be able to bring a lawsuit,” says lawyer Beth Krulewitch, who along with attorneyDan Gerashtook over Jeremy’s case from Woodruff. To deny the parents that right would open up the

The Colorado Supreme Court
credit: Andy Cross

very loophole that the wrongful-death law seeks to close, Krulewitch argues.

“The person who was negligent would basically get away with it,” she says.

Fremont County District Court Judge David Thorson disagreed. In December 2010, he sided with Catholic Health Initiatives and the doctors, and dismissed Jeremy’s lawsuit.

But Thorson noted that no appeals court in Colorado had taken up the issue of whether fetuses are people under the law, leaving it an open question. He also noted that the word “person” isn’t defined in the statute. If lawmakers meant it to cover unborn babies, he ruled, they would have said so.

Thorson threw out the lawsuit related to Lori, as well. Based on expert testimony, he decided that the blockage of her arteries was so severe that she probably would have died whether or not the doctors had performed a C-section to save the twins.

Jeremy was crestfallen, and even though he was forced to declare bankruptcy after the doctors and the hospital came after him for $118,969 in legal fees, he decided to appeal.

Nine months later, in August 2011, Jeremy’s lawyers filed a brief asking a panel of three appellate judges to reverse the district court ruling. To back their case, they cited several cases from inside and outside Colorado. One of the most important was a 1986 decision by former Colorado Supreme Court justice and then-U.S. District Court judge James Carrigan. Faced with a situation in which a nine-months-pregnant woman was killed by a drunk driver, Carrigan found that the woman’s husband could sue the bar that served the driver for the wrongful death of both his wife and unborn son.

The purpose of the wrongful-death law, Carrigan wrote, is to “preserve and protect human life.” That includes, he added, “a full-term, viable unborn child’s right to be born alive.”

The case was heard in federal court because of what’s known as diversity jurisdiction, which means that the people involved are citizens of different states or countries. Since the accident happened in Colorado, Carrigan had to interpret Colorado law in making his decision. But federal court decisions aren’t binding on future state cases.

Even so, Jeremy’s lawyers argued that Carrigan’s ruling “provides a thoughtful and persuasive framework.” They also pointed out that courts in at least thirty other states have found that a viable fetus is a “person” under their wrongful-death laws, many of which resemble Colorado’s law. The Colorado Trial Lawyers Association joined in that argument by filing its own legal brief, writing that “common sense, common decency and the majority of courts” support the conclusion that the law should cover viable unborn babies.


The hospital and doctors continued to do battle. But there was a dawning realization in their legal briefs that the issue of fetuses-as-people could be a public-relations disaster.

“Whenever the legal system addresses the rights of the unborn, political winds swirl and passionate debate mounts,” the hospital’s lawyers wrote.

Soon thereafter, the lawyers for Pelner and Staples appear to have switched their tactics, encouraging the court to decide the case based on another reason altogether, which the court is allowed to do: that the OB-GYN expert hired by Jeremy’s lawyers “did not know whether a C-section would have saved the fetuses.” If it wouldn’t have helped anyway, should Jeremy be allowed to sue the doctors and hospital for not performing it?

That’s the question the three appellate judges were interested in when lawyers met to argue the case in April 2012. To prove their point, the doctors’ lawyers relied on a snippet of testimony taken from the OB-GYN expert’s deposition. The expert was questioned about perimortem C-section, or a C-section performed at or near the time of a mother’s death. When asked if “overall, to a probability,” most babies born by perimortem C-section die, he answered in the affirmative.

But Krulewitch argued that the doctors’ lawyers took the expert’s answer out of context. He only said yes after he was told to disregard how quickly the procedure is done. If a perimortem C-section is performed within five minutes of a mother going into cardiac arrest, the expert testified, the chances of a baby surviving are good.

Perinatologist Vern Katz, who wrote the first paper on perimortem C-sections in 1986, says the standard about when to do one is clear: Start the procedure within four minutes so that the baby can be delivered within five minutes, before brain damage begins.

“You don’t listen to [fetal] heart tones, because you can’t really tell,” says Katz, a clinical professor at Oregon Health and Science University. That’s because when an unborn baby is in distress, its heartbeat can slow dramatically, making it hard to detect, he explains. Plus, he says, the emergency room is often hectic. “There’s yelling and screaming and moving the mom around. It’s very chaotic, and you can’t verify whether heart tones are there.

“We say, ‘Just go for the baby, period,’” he adds.

A pulmonary embolism, which is what Lori suffered, is “a great reason to do a perimortem C-section,” Katz explains. Even if the mother can’t be saved, you’re “doing it to save the baby.” At 28 weeks along, he says, “the babies would have been resuscitatable.”

In many cases, doing a C-section within five minutes isn’t possible. But it was in Lori’s case. “Lori was rolled into the emergency room living and breathing,” Gerash says. “The unborn fetuses are in the place where they have the best chance.”

But the appellate judges agreed with the doctors, ruling last August that Jeremy “failed to produce any evidence” that the doctors’ negligence caused the twins to die.

As for the question of whether fetuses are people under Colorado’s wrongful-death law, they left it unanswered, and DU law professor Russell understands why. “No judge in the state wants to be the judge who decides the issue,” he says. “Almost no judge wants to write an opinion that says, ‘Here’s what the wrongful-death statute means.’ One way or another, they’re going to get a lot of heat for it.”

Jeremy and his lawyers, however, believe the issue needs to be decided. So in September, despite their repeated losses and mounting legal costs, they appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Jeremy’s lawyers are asking the high court to answer three questions: Was the appeals court wrong in dodging the issue of whether Jeremy’s unborn sons were “people” under the law? Was the appeals court wrong to instead dismiss Jeremy’s lawsuit based on that snippet of testimony? And was the court wrong in deciding that the testimony cast doubt on whether the babies would have survived, when it “was subject to more than one reasonable interpretation”?

There is no deadline by which the Supreme Court must decide whether to take the case. If it does, the justices could remand the case back to the appeals court with instructions to decide whether fetuses are people under the wrongful-death law. Or they could answer the question themselves. If they decide fetuses aren’t people, the case is over. If they decide they are, Jeremy will be entitled to bring the issue to trial. “The big reason I want to get back into court,” Jeremy says, “is to be able to ask why they didn’t try to save the boys.”

Read the complete story at Westwords.

One way, or another, the legal definition of personhood will have to be decided upon. After all, its meaning was bandied about during the Roe vs. Wade arguments,

“[Texas] argues that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment…If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case (or Roe’s case) collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

Due to cases like the one involving St. Thomas More Hospital as outlined above, forty years of ducking the issue may be rapidly coming to a close.

The Real Reason to Criticize Roe.

UPDATE 2/04/2013

Colorado Catholic Hospital: It Was Morally Wrong to Cite the Wrongful Death Act in Stodgill Lawsuit.

  • Meg

    I find this case so frustrating to read about. I suppose a charitable interpretation could be that they hospital system is hoping to lose and have these fetuses officially declared persons under the law, but even that seems like a deceptive way of going about getting the law changed. Even if the fetuses were declared persons for the purposes of this statute, I can’t imagine it making some kind of difference. We still have abortion throughout pregnancy, despite the many states that allow prosecution of a double homicide when a pregnant woman is murdered. This hospital system is making the Church look ridiculous, and I dearly hope the bishops of Colorado take away their status as a Catholic hospital.

    • Cassandra

      I don’t think that such a “charitable” interpretation is called for. Not least of which is the precept that you may not do evil that good may come of it.

      A proper legal approach would be for the husband to sue the hospital within the Church by filing a canon lawsuit. No wiggle room for the hospital there.

  • Chris

    I have been reading about this on secular blogs, and news sites since Thursday. It is causing quite an excuse to bash the Church. I am happy to see that Catholic blogs are starting to pick up on it. Here is what concerns me most. Legally, the lawyers have a right to state that fetus’s are not persons. It may even be a tactic to get the Colorado Supreme Court to make a ruling that a fetus is a person, and thereby creating precedent for arguing the case at the National level. However, as St. Paul says, “Everything is lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Cor. 6:12 Is this move by the lawyers beneficial to the reputation of the Church? What is more important, getting out from under a lawsuit, or using this opportunity for evangelization? How many souls will be turned away from Christ as some of His Children exert their “right”? I pray that somehow a man who lost his wife and unborn twins will find healing, and the Cross of Christ will prevail.

    • Stacey Johnson

      “How many souls will be turned away from Christ as some of His Children exert their “right”?”
      Absolutely. I have already encountered Catholics who have stated that this is shaking their faith. It is hard sometimes for people to see the difference between the Church and agencies operating under its auspices.

  • Bender

    The truth of the human person that the Church promotes and defends is clear.

    Also clear is the fundamental ethical obligation of an attorney to not harm the interests of his client.

    In making this argument, these lawyers for the hospital are in gross violation of their ethical obligation.

    Not only to they have an obligation to repudiate their argument, made for crass legalistic purposes, they now have an obligation to withdraw from representation. If they don’t withdraw, these attorneys should be fired.

  • Joseph

    Sorry, the State cannot have it both ways. The State has the problem, not the Church.

    • Kristen inDallas

      They both have a problem. The state has a legal problem, and the hospital has a moral one.

  • Oregon Catholic

    The twins either died due to negligence or they didn’t. IMO, that is the ONLY legal question the hospital should be willing to argue. If death resulted from malpractice, they need to pay up. It is the only moral thing to do. We all know that what is legal is very often immoral, so they must not hide behind Justice’s skirts.

    The other very dark specter this raises is whether the twins could have been intentionally allowed to die unborn in an attempt to escape legal responsibility for any malpractice that might have preceded their death. I pray not.

  • pagansister

    My only question is—WHY didn’t one of those doctors do a C Section to remove those 7 MONTH fetus’s and give them a chance to live?????? IMO, that is the question that needs to be answered? The twins didn’t have a chance while still inside—and of course not being a doctor I don’t know—but wouldn’t there have been a short window of time where that C Section could have been done? In the past I have read that pregnant women who have been mortally wounded have had their viable fetus’s successfully born via C Section. Little ones of less than 1 1/2 pounds have survived with the help of today’s modern medical advances. Did the Catholic hospital doctors make any effort to save the twins? IF not, then they didn’t follow what they have been saying for centuries—–life begins at the moment of conception. Those little ones were 7 months along—way past that “moment of conception”. As to her doctor? There is no excuse for his neglect.

  • Justin MD

    The hospital has every right to demand equal protection under the law. It’s not the hospital’s fault that the secular legal system doesn’t recognise the fetus as a person.

    • pagansister

      NO, but it claims to be a Catholic hospital —so no abortions, no vasectomies, no tubal legations. Interesting that it claims the Colorado law to defend itself when that law goes against the beliefs that the Church holds. Perhaps to save the mother a termination might be done? Am not sure if I’m right or not, but I have understood that in the past, a mother would be sacrificed if the fetus could be saved? My understanding might be wrong. But in this case, it seems that, from what is being said, there was no attempt to save the twins when it became apparent that their mother couldn’t be saved.

    • Oregon Catholic

      And should a Catholic hospital claim legal protection under the law to perform abortions because it’s good financial policy? WOW. What part of legal is not necessarily moral don’t you get? The hospital, since it identifies to the world as Catholic, has an obligation to put Catholic morality ahead of Colorado law even, or maybe especially, when it hurts the bottom line.

      • pagansister

        IMO in this case, this hospital is hiding behind the Colorado law so it doesn’t have to pay for the possible negligence of it’s doctors. I totally agree it should put it’s “morality” above/ahead of the Colorado law, which it seems it didn’t do in this case. I DID NOT suggest it should perform abortions to make money. I stated that Catholic hospitals are known to not do such procedures due to it’s beliefs. If the life of a pregnant woman is in danger due to her pregnancy—then lets hope that there is a non-Catholic hospital close by. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case sometimes.

        • Oregon Catholic

          My comment wasn’t directed at you pagansister, it was to Justin MD.

          • pagansister

            Sorry, Oregon Catholic. :-(

  • Jason C.

    No one is talking about the issue of insurance. Is the hospital self-insured or does it carry insurance for wrongful death situations such as this? If it does, and an insurance company is paying its defense costs and possibly any judgment that is rendered against the hospital, not only does the hospital not get to decide which legal points it will argue in its defense, but it actually owes a contractual obligation to cooperate in its defense. The attorneys hired by the insurance company represent both the hospital and the insurance company, and are professionally obligated to make all arguments at their disposal.

    I think trying to put all the backdoor-challenge-to-Colorado-personhood-statutes stuff is probably well-intentioned, but the story is likely much simpler: the hospital is insured and its insurance company hired attorneys that will make any argument they can in defense of the policy proceeds.

    The likely reason you won’t see this come up is because, in most states, you’re not supposed to talk about insurance during litigation since it can prejudice a jury–who wouldn’t award tons of money if you knew it was just coming out of an insurance company’s pocket and not the nice, sweet hospital where your Aunt Tammy works and your friend got his appendix removed?

    • Frank Weathers


      I think you are probably on the mark, Jason. It appears that Catholic Health Initiatives is not self-insured for professional liability, etc., utilizing the services of a subsidiary of Towers Watson. With the liabilities that health care providers face, this makes sense.

    • Oregon Catholic

      The hospital is always free to release the insurance company and settle this on their own. Morality can get really HARD sometimes, can’t it? I’d like a show of hands from anyone who has ever been excused from the obligation to act morally because it was just too HARD. Are we really going to give the hospital (and God forbid any bishops) a pass on not doing the right thing if they were in fact negligent?

      • pagansister

        What is moral about the hospital NOT trying to save the twin fetus’s? Apparently it was not possible to save the mother. No, the hospital should NOT be given a pass on this case —they should pay in full if indeed found negligent. I think folks are upset here because the hospital is hiding behind Colorado law —and NOT sticking by their beliefs and perhaps admitting they blew it.

  • Jim B.

    So many opinion’s. I’ll have to disagree with the assertion that it’s the State that can’t have it both ways. It’s not the State that’s being sued, it’s the hospital. And since the hospital is church affiliated it’s the church and it’s teachings that are being sued, therefore it’s the Church that can’t have it both ways.

    Yes, the lawyers who are using the State’s assertion that fetus’ are not life, but with the Churche’s permission. Not only that, they are also sueing this poor man for over $100KK to get back their legal fees.

  • Christopher Brashears

    “but with the Churche’s permission.”
    No, that is precisely the problem. Being a Catholic hospital does not equate with them following everything the Church teaches. It should. There really shouldn’t be any question of that. However, the reality is what it is and not what it should be.
    This is why the Bishops released this above statement. They are calling this hospital out for its unconscionable position just to save their bacon from the lawsuit. The Bishops are saying that the hospital must hold to the Church’s teaching especially when it isn’t in their favor. That what principle and character is all about.

    • Frank Weathers

      It’s interesting that the bishops note that they have only “learned” of the case now.

  • MJ

    The fact that Catholic Health Initiatives CAN make the argument that the twins were not people — thanks to the legal landscape in Colorado — doesn’t mean that it HAS to make such an argument. It is simply wrong, therefore, to say as Frank Weathers has said that “the definition of personhood, and whether a fetus is recognized as a person or not, matters in this case not so much because the Church, and a hospital operating as one of her agents, believes a fetus is a person, but because Colorado doesn’t recognize this as the law reads currently…”
    NO. The reason the “definition of personhood” matters is that the Catholic hospital has chosen not to accept responsibility for the deaths of the twins, but instead to fight the case in court, utilizing the laws of Colorado in its defense.

  • Frank Weathers

    FYI, I’m not a lawyer, etc., but I do have experience with insurance providers, contracts, and company legal departments from my civilian career in business logistics. So any faults in the analysis that I made are mine, and you may agree with them, or not, at your discretion.

    That said, in a previous case, as the article I shared makes clear, the court found that the hospital was not at fault for wrongful death of the mother.

    The case now is ongoing, and so the conclusions are yet to be decided upon. I simply noted that this current case, and fact that the state of Colorado doesn’t recognize the fetus as a person, may push the Colorado Supreme Court to come to grips with the personhood issue. That is what the author of the article alludes to and I think that thesis has merit.

    An earlier commenter called this a “backdoor” approach, but be that as it may, if the case is decided that there was wrongful death of the twins, then damages would only be awarded if the state also recognized the personhood of the twins. As to why the attorneys for the hospital made their argument in the manner that they did, I speculate that they did so because of how the law reads in Colorado currently, nothing more. As someone earlier mentions, the approach of the legal team may be because the attorneys also represent the insurance company that the hospital uses to insurance against losses of this type. I do not know.