Friday, April 1, 2016

Pelletier update

The family of Justina Pelletier, 17, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Boston Children’s Hospital for its alleged mistreatment of Justina and her parents. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who acts as a spokesperson for the family, said the misconduct ensued after the hospital took custody of Justina in February 2013.
Boston Children’s released a statement Thursday defending the medical care they provided Justina.
“Boston Children’s Hospital welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier,” the statement read. “We are committed to the best interests of our patient’s health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care.”...
Justina was released from the custody of Boston Children’s in June 2015. She entered the hospital able to move freely but is now confined to a wheelchair, Mahoney said.
“[Justina’s disabilities] happened because of the neglect, incompetence and abuse of Boston Children’s Hospital,” Mahoney said. “In response to what happened to Justina, the family filed the lawsuit against Boston Children’s Hospital and four of the doctors connected with them last week. The lawsuit is not about revenge or profit. It’s about justice, accountability and to ensure this never happens to another family again.”
Mahoney said Justina has improved since she was released from the custody of the Boston Children’s custody and psychiatric ward.
“Justina is making wonderful progress, but she’s still got a long way to go,” Mahoney said. “She is back at school for the first time. She’s with her parents, free to go to mass if she chooses, free to be with her friends.”
Several Boston residents voiced concerns over how Justina was treated.
Matti Spencer, 63, of Fenway, said she hopes people will learn from this situation and that other children won’t have to suffer the trauma Justina went through.
“Hopefully that will never happen to someone else again,” she said. “Obviously, she has suffered a lot of trauma from this experience. She’s young and hopefully she will recuperate from that and move on with her life. I’m not sure if she’s looking for a monetary gain or what, I just think she doesn’t want that to happen to someone else again.”
Julian Dessler, 25, of Brighton, said he thinks the hospital and the family should maintain separate relationships.
“The hospital should assist, not interfere, [with the family],” he said. “It’s not in [the hospital’s] hands. They should treat what they can do.”
Richard Cooper, 65, of Back Bay, said there should be an extensive investigation when dealing with the custody of a child.
“[Assigning custody of a child] shouldn’t be done arbitrarily,” he said. “That’s basically it. We are a country of laws. Unless there are obvious signs of abuse, the family should be able to maintain parental rights and custody.”


  1. Nearly two years after she returned home in the arms of her father, Justina Pelletier was back in the spotlight Thursday, speaking in a small, slightly shaky voice about the 16 months she spent in state custody, much of it in a locked psychiatric ward.

    Justina, whose case drew national attention to the power of medical professionals to override parental rights, said she remains outraged that she was placed in state custody in 2013 after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of interfering with her care.

    The 17-year-old Connecticut girl clutched a purple stress ball, fingernails painted turquoise, as she spoke from a wheelchair in front of the State House, where her parents had convened a press conference to discuss the lawsuit they recently filed against Children’s Hospital.

    “I’m very angry, and I just don’t understand how this happened, and I just really don’t want this to happen again to another family,” said Justina, who was with her parents, two of their attorneys, and a family spokesman from the Christian Defense Coalition…
    On Thursday, Justina criticized her treatment at Children’s Hospital. “They really treated me badly,” she said, looking older and more mature than when she was last publicly seen, being carried into her home by her father after being released from state custody. “They didn’t really care. It was awful.”

    Boston Children’s Hospital said in a statement that it “welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier.”

    “We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care,” the hospital said. “Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.”

    Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, sued Children’s Hospital in Suffolk Superior Court this month, accusing the renowned institution and four of its doctors — Jurriaan Peters, Simona Bujoreanu, Alice Newton, and Colleen Ryan — of gross negligence and civil rights violations. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages…

    Last year, the Pelletiers filed for bankruptcy, according to court records.

    They also faced foreclosure on their home but were ultimately able to settle their mortgage payments using money from a fund called “A Miracle for Justina” that was controlled by another daughter, Jennifer, court records show.

    Lou Pelletier said he is suing Children’s Hospital because he doesn’t want other parents of children with complex medical problems to fear losing custody if they have to seek emergency medical care at a hospital.

    “This is not about revenge,” Lou Pelletier said. “This is about making people accountable and making the medical community think twice before they take actions that can do damage to a child and a family that can be irreversible.”…

    Justina said that since returning home, she has undergone several surgeries and is “doing a lot better.” She said she rides horses to build strength and attends a school for children with learning disabilities.

    “I just really, really want them to get what they deserve,” she said of the doctors at Children’s Hospital. “And I really, really want to walk again and skate.”

  2. We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care. Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.

    Regarding general questions about religious and education services, Boston Children’s offers patients and families access to a broad complement of services that are outlined at Specifically, patients and their families have access to Boston Children’s multi-faith chaplaincy, which offers spiritual support 24 hours a day to people of all traditions and those with no religious affiliation to assist and support our patients and their families. Boston Children’s also offers educational tutoring for all eligible patients, with a full time teacher on staff to provide ongoing education as appropriate for each individual patient.

    Boston Children’s and its providers are required by state law to report cases of suspected child maltreatment to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF is solely responsible for investigating reports of suspected child maltreatment and for deciding whether to go to court to request temporary custody of a child. The Hospital never decides who has custody of a child in any case of alleged child maltreatment. The Hospital is not the custodian or the legal guardian of the patients in its care, nor is it affiliated with any state agency. Boston Children’s does not keep patients in its care against the direction of the custodial guardian.’’

    Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a spokesman for the Pelletier family, told on Thursday the “negligent actions’’ of the hospital resulted in Justina being taken away from her family.

    “Today the Pelletier family is responding with this lawsuit against Boston Children’s seeking accountability, justice, and the hope that this would never again happen to another family,’’ he said. “That the nightmare the Pelletiers endured for 18 months would never occur to anyone else. So that’s our hope in filing the suit today. It’s not about revenge or profit, it’s about fairness, accountability, and justice.’’

    The whole experience has taken a tremendous toll on Justina and the family, Pelletier said, and the goal of the lawsuit is to see that Boston Children’s stops doing “parent-ectomies.’’ He said the bottom line is the hospital changed their daughter’s diagnosis, wouldn’t allow he and his wife to be involved in her medical care, and took their parental rights away.

    “We’re demanding accountability for their actions, the harm they did to her and our family, and that they continue to do to families,’’ he said.

    Pelletier wasn’t working while he was trying to get his daughter back and now that she’s home, much of the family’s time is spent dealing with the “ramifications’’ of Justina being “kept away in a locked ward’’ for the large portion of time she was at the hospital, said Kathy Jo Cook, an attorney for the family.

  3. released a video yesterday that highlights the state of parental rights in the court system. In many cases the family court system works well protecting kids who have been found to be in homes where they have experienced abuse and neglect.

    There have several instances, however, where the system has failed and has taken children away from loving homes like in the case of Justina Pelletier who was literally kidnapped by the state of Massachusetts in 2013-2014 and Baby Sammy Nikolayev in 2013.

    Those were cases that were pretty high-profile. Watch the two-and-a-half minute long video below to learn about a problem that doesn’t make headlines and points to the need for a Parental Rights Amendment.

  4. KJC Law Firm is pleased to announce another significant victory for Justina Pelletier against Dr. Alice Newton and others. A medical malpractice tribunal has confirmed that KJC Law Firm set forth a viable claim of medical malpractice against Dr. Newton and her colleagues. The complaint alleges that they misdiagnosed Justina Pelletier, cut her off from all communication with her long-time treating doctors, and falsely accused her parents of abusing her...ultimately resulting in her wrongful imprisonment in a locked psychiatric ward and other facilities for over one year. This is a huge development in the law and the fight for the rights of parents, patients, and even doctors. The case will now proceed through the long process of discovery in order to prepare for trial. Congratulations to the Pelletier family!

  5. Marty Gottesfeld resides in custody, held without bail, for allegedly attacking a hospital’s website via DDoS, in retaliation for the hospital’s alleged (there’s that word again) mistreatment of Justina Pelletier. Well, the mistreatment was actually real, separating her legally and physically from her parents and forcing her to forgo effective medical treatment because of the hospital’s inaccurate diagnosis. And somebody took down that website.

    Now Marty Gottesfeld faces five years under the CFAA for that crime, because he shared an #OpJustina video on YouTube.

    You might remember back in February hearing about a couple of “hackers” who’d been plucked from their disabled sailboat in the Caribbean by, of all things, a Disney cruise ship. Mickey and friends then handed the hapless captives over to the FBI in Miami. That would be Marty and his wife.

    We have been in contact with Marty’s wife and will have more, a LOT more, soon. For now, we’ll just reprint the press release from the website. Keep your eyes on this case. It’s going to get very interesting. Not only are there similarities to the Paypal 14 case, but the actual operating systems of the hospital were never effected by the DDoS: email worked, patient records worked, even the wifi still worked. A CFAA felony charge and potential five years for simply sharing a YouTube video of a DDoS attack with no commercial or medical impact might be over-reaching somewhat. Time, and the judge, will tell.

    For now, Gottesfeld remains in custody, this particular Pirate of the Caribbean cooling his heels in a cell while waiting for a hearing date.

    Marty, 32, is a human rights advocate and Senior Systems Engineer born and raised in Andover, Massachusetts. He was rescued at sea by a Disney cruise ship and arrested on February 17th, 2016. His bond hearing was held on April 27th at the John Moakley Courthouse in Boston and on July 8th, 2016, five months after his arrest, Marty was denied bond. His next court date to appeal the decision has not been scheduled yet.

    Marty faces allegations that he conspired with members of the hacktivist group Anonymous to organize an online sit-in of Boston Children’s Hospital’s public website, in no way harming patients or exposing private information. At the time, an international campaign was underway to stop the torture and save the life of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier.

    Because Boston Children’s Hospital doctors felt Justina’s symptoms had psychological causes, she was denied her pain management and cardiac medications, became paralyzed below the hips, and effectively secluded. Her contact with her family severely limited, she took to smuggling them notes hidden in art projects describing her suffering. After 16 months of incredible suffering, and thanks to the effort of thousands, Justina was allowed to return home.

    Friends, family and supporters of Marty are launching the #FreeMartyG campaign to help raise awareness of Marty’s case and to ensure that the tragedy that resulted from Ortiz’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz is never repeated...

    The #FreeMartyG campaign is also seeking support for Marty’s upcoming non-fiction book, Parentectomy, including help finding editors, typists, literary agents, and publishers. Other ways to show solidarity with Marty include sending him an “iCare” food package.