Man at center of family’s end-of-life care dispute dies

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CARMEL – A Carmel man at the center of a family feud over his end-of-life care has died.

Paul Smith, 88, a former lawyer and magistrate from Carmel, died Monday night. He had been in a hospital since late December. His condition deteriorated, and doctors believed he was near the end of his life.

In 2004, Smith drew up a living will naming his daughter, Judy Sly, as guardian. According to that directive, Smith did not want his life prolonged if such care served only to draw out his death.

Another daughter, Susan Rissman, said she’d cared for her father for years and didn’t agree with the doctors’ assessment of her father’s condition. She also claimed her father was being denied food and water.

During a court hearing in January, doctors said Smith would likely die soon. He was taken off a ventilator, and his end-of-life directives were followed.

Smith, however, did not die. He began asking for food and water, prompting Rissman to ask a court to intervene. Twice, she asked Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation to appoint an independent guardian to manage Smith’s care. Last month, she appealed to Nation for an independent review of her father’s care.

Nation denied all three requests, citing Smith’s existing living will.

Visitation for Smith is Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Shirley Brothers Fishers-Castleton Chapel and 10 a.m. Thursday at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ. His funeral begins at 11 a.m. He will be buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Previous stories:

Woman fears ill father not getting the care he needs to survive
Family faces off in court over Carmel man’s dying days


    • Sheila

      I think his request would over ride the end of life directive. If he was aware enough to ask for food and water and was denied it, that's murder to me. I hope his daughter is happy that she starved him to death. Not feeding him from January to March? CRUEL.

  • Lily

    You live your whole life and it comes to this. I'm no attorney, but it does not seem that legally they should be able to deny him food and water if he is asking for it. I know I could not have denied my father food and water. Never.

  • John

    Some people (especially the elderly) experience dementia and this could have been the case. He could have been asking for food and water although he was not hungry or thirsty for it. An advance directive is a legal document that, by law, must be followed. His primary caregivers would have know if he was in fact suffering from dementia or not and could shed some light on the issue. If he was of sound mind, then I would think an investigation would be conducted.

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