Fri, May 27, 2005
Religious trial defended
dad should be allowed to sue church over girl's death
By KEVIN MARTIN, CALGARY
Calgary: When religions verge into secular territory
to the point they endanger lives, they can't rely on the Charter to protect
them from civil litigation, a lawyer said yesterday.
Vaughn Marshall said his former
client's lawsuit against the Jehovah's Witness church should be allowed to proceed despite claims it will put the religion on trial.
Marshall told Justice Patricia Rowbotham
the case was about undo influence being placed on a dying child, not the
beliefs of the Jehovah's Witness' Watch Tower Society.
He said the lawsuit is about
certain segments of the society and the influence they placed on Bethany
Hughes before her Sept. 5, 2002, death.
Bethany, 17, succumbed to leukemia after fighting against blood
transfusions which she said violated her religious teachings.
Her father, Lawrence, has since
sued the church and some of its members, including Bethany's lawyer, for nearly $1 million
claiming they are responsible for her death.
Lawyer David Gnam
argued on Tuesday that the lawsuit was simply an attempt to put the religion
Gnam said Hughes claim was putting the
religious beliefs of practising Jehovah's Witnesses
Hughes was shunned from the church
after he rejected its teachings about blood transfusions and agreed to allow Bethany to undergo
transfusions during her chemotherapy treatments.
Marshall had been acting as his lawyer, but had to withdraw after
seeking independent advice when lawyers for the defendants filed notice they
would seek costs against him personally.
Rowbotham granted Marshall intervener status to argue against
the application to strike the lawsuit because the costs application put both
his finances and reputation at risk.
The Queen's Bench judge has
reserved her decision.