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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 86626
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Ill make this short as possible. My girlfriend has a son

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I'll make this short as possible. My girlfriend has a son Jeff 17 years old and we in Tennessee. Due to his refusal to attend school and a misdemeanor marijuana charge the state took custody of him four months ago. His mother is an upstanding citizen. She agreed to sign him over to states custody because since his fathers death she was unable to control him. When taking him into custody he bolted and got away. He went to Atlanta GA and began living with friends. On Friday an officer questioned him because he crossed the street on his skate-board outside the crosswalk. He gave the officer his name. When the officer ran his name he came up as a run-away. The officer cuffed him and began questioning another juvenal. Jeff ran, handcuffed. He went over a wall not realizing the 20+ foot drop to concrete on the other side. He broke both ankles, his arm, cracked his spine and cracked his pelvis. He is alive and amazingly has no head injuries. This is where the problem starts. We traveled to Atlanta, and since we got there the hospital has given us almost no information and when they do it is conflicting and often found to be a direct lie. The surgeon there told us that his ankles do not require surgery and would heal on their own. Disbelieving this because of all the other consistencies we asked for his radiology information. They would not give it to us. Jeff's mom then went directly to the radiology department and was able to get the disks. We put them in the computer and any ordinary person can see his heels are badly broken and need surgery. Meanwhile a representative from the state of Tennessee came down and told us that they would be transporting him back up to Tennessee to a rehabilitation center via ambulance. We were OK with this since we had the disks we figured that we would look for a specialist in Tennessee. Since we had already been in Atlanta four days and funds were running low we figured we would head back and look for a surgeon. We headed back late last night Today we get a phone call from her son that they are now planing on doing surgery. I believe that the only reason they have decided to do surgery is because they found out that we have this disks showing that he needs it and are trying to avoid a lawsuit. We DO NOT want them performing surgery because there no foot specialists in their practice. We think this is a CYA situation. What are his and his mothers rights for Jeffs medical car since the state of Tennessee is his legal guardian. Also 17 is a legal adult in GA. We realize he put himself into this situation but we are also talking about an operation that will have the difference on how he walks the rest of his life. This is urgent because they are talking about doing surgery soon. Please help.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your family's situation. What I am not sure of is what exactly you are asking here. For example:

1) Does the mother still have any right to medical information?
2) Can she make a medical decision on his behalf?
3) Can he make a medical decision on his own behalf?
4) And/or something else?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Pretty much yes to all. Can we refuse to let them do the surgery in that Hospital? Or does the State trump the mom in these decisions because the state has legal custody of him?

Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
Thank you, D.

On this website, I do no always get to give good news, and I am afraid that this is one of these times.

Once she signed over custody to TN's CPS, the state became his custodian. By legal definition, he became a ward of the state. The state is now his legal guardian for all intents and purposes. The mother is not.

As such, unless the court orders that have her releasing custody specifically state so, she has no right to his medical information and/or to make a choice on his behalf. This duty now falls to the legal guardian, i.e., the state. Now the hospital may have been working with the family about it, but likely this was before they knew that there was an order in place giving the state legal custody. So yes, the state "trumps"the mom. Mom no longer has this ability.

In addition, the age of majority (when someone is considered an adult) is 18, not 17. It may be 17 for being tried as an adult, but not for anything else.

Thus:

1) She has no rights to make that decision;
2) Nor does he until he turns 18;
3) The state does.

I am very sorry.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Actually the hospital was aware of the situation from the start. There was an officer posted outside his room. No one seemed to understand why, including the officers. They didn't understand why they were there since he was not wanted in Tennessee and since he was not under arrest in Georgia.



I don't like what you have to say, but the reason I sent the question was to get verification. I understand. We are heading out the door now to go back to Atlanta. I may have a couple follow up questions. I will rate you by your legal information not by emotion. Thank you for your quick response.

Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
David,

Actually the hospital was aware of the situation from the start. There was an officer posted outside his room. No one seemed to understand why, including the officers.

Perhaps there was some confusion and/or this was a personal choice by the attending nurses, etc. However, unless the court orders state otherwise, the medical decisions are now the responsibility of the state, like the custody is. So my answer stands as is.

I don't like what you have to say, but the reason I sent the question was to get verification. I understand. We are heading out the door now to go back to Atlanta. I may have a couple follow up questions. I will rate you by your legal information not by emotion. Thank you for your quick response.

Thank you - until then.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Ely, A quick update. I relayed the bad news to Jeffs mom. She was confused because Jeff's DCS case worker told her a couple of days ago that she still had all her parental rights and to have those stripped the state would have to take her to court. We are confused.

Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
D,

Okay, now you have told me two different things:

She was confused because Jeff's DCS case worker told her a couple of days ago that she still had all her parental rights and to have those stripped the state would have to take her to court.

But earlier:

Due to his refusal to attend school and a misdemeanor marijuana charge the state took custody of him four months ago. His mother is an upstanding citizen. She agreed to sign him over to states custody because since his fathers death she was unable to control him.

So... who has formal custody at the moment?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Sadly, both statements are true. The state of Tennessee has legal custody. That I'm sure of. But Jeff's mom was told by Jeff's DCS worker that she still had parental rights. We are being told so many contradictory things. I think most of the people we are talking to are full of BS or merely telling us what they think we want to hear to pacify us.


 


Could she go to the Judge and request from the state that custody be transferred back to her?

Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
D,

Sounds like a confusing situation. What she needs to do is to take a look at the custody orders that were signed for the Court. They hold the answer, and honestly, it sounds like CPS has custody. But she can clarify that by taking a look at the orders and seeing what they state. If unsure, she can get a copy from CPS, or the Court.

Could she go to the Judge and request from the state that custody be transferred back to her?

Yes, but the Court would likely only agree if:

1) there has been a material change in circumstances which would warrant such a request and
2) the request would be in the best interest of the child.

Whether or not these elements are TRUE would be up to the Court to decide. So she may ask, but there is no guarantee.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
One final question. Does Jeff have any patient rights as an individual? Or does being a juvenile put him at the whim of the state?
Expert:  Ely replied 9 months ago.
D,

Well of course he has certain rights, yes. However, as a minor, these rights are limited and many fall to his guardian (right now, it seems like CPS).

Technically, he can petition the court himself to avoid/force a medical procedure against his guardian's wishes. See here (Mature Minor Exemption). However, this would have to be something the court would agree to. By default, unless otherwise proven, the guardian has the decision-making ability here.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 86626
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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