The Associated Press State & Local Wire
September 29, 1999, Wednesday, BC cycle
Woman’s family files wrongful-death suit against Kevorkian associate
SECTION: State and Regional
LENGTH: 355 words
DATELINE: RIO RANCHO, N.M.
The sister of a woman who was allegedly given a drug overdose has filed a wrongful-death suit against the retired psychiatrist accused of killing her.
Prosecutors allege Georges Reding, 74, of Galesburg, Mich., administered a lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital to Donna Brennan, 54, in August 1998. A Sandoval County grand jury indicted Reding Aug. 19 on charges of first-degree murder, practicing medicine without a license, trafficking in a controlled substance and evidence tampering.
A New Mexico warrant was issued earlier this month for Reding after he failed to show up for his arraignment. Detectives in Rio Rancho are working with law enforcement officials in Kalamazoo County, Mich., to find Reding, but said that as of Wednesday, they had not located him.
Police at first thought Ms. Brennan, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, died of natural causes. But her family urged police to investigate, and the drug turned up in an autopsy.
The lawsuit alleges Reding, an associate of assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, committed malpractice by administering the drug.
“On or about Aug. 30, 1998, Donna Brennan became a patient of Defendant Georges Reding, at which time he undertook … to treat and care for Donna Brennan,” the lawsuit says. “Defendant breached the duty of care which he owed to Donna Brennan under state laws of New Mexico.”
Stevan Schoen, who is representing Brennan’s sister, Karen Lawler, said the American Medical Association clearly states assisted suicide is incompatible with a physician’s role as a healer.
“It is my understanding that the American Medical Association has interpreted the code of ethics for the medical profession to mean that physicians should not and can not assist in the death of a patient,” Schoen said Monday.
Schoen did not specify the amount of damages sought, but said the lawsuit may be able to recover her lost wages and remuneration for the “loss of the enjoyment of her life” based on life expectancy.
Telephone and credit card records and a witness placed Reding at Brennan’s house around the time of her death, authorities said.