Michael Schiavo Threatens to Sue Terri’s Foundation for Using Wife’s Name
By James Tillman
TAMPA BAY, Florida, May 3, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com)—Michael Schiavo has threatened to sue the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation for using his wife's name, to which he claims to have an exclusive right, according to a Tampa Bay CBS affiliate, WTSP-Channel 10. Schiavo also accused the Schindlers, who began the Foundation during the battle to care for their disabled daughter before she was starved to death at Michael's behest, of profiteering off Terri's name.
Michael Schiavo first engaged in legal battles with the Schindler family in his efforts to remove the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife, Terri Schiavo, in 2004 and 2005. Due to his success after a protracted legal battle, she died of dehydration fourteen days after the feeding tube was removed. Michael Schiavo was living with another woman at the time, with whom he had fathered two children.
The Terri Schindler Schiavo foundation, led by Terri's brother Bobby Schindler, is dedicated to "helping persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations." It was founded in 2001 originally to aid in the fight for Terri's life.
A report by WSTP's Mike Deeson recounts that Michael Schiavo claimed Terri would be, in Deeson's words, "horrified" to know what her family was doing with her name. The story goes on to imply that the family mishandles the money that the foundation raises, because the majority of it is used for salaries.
David Gibbs, attorney for the Schindler's, responded to Michael's threats in a letter pointing out that "Terri Schindler Schiavo is now a public figure." "Any objections Michael Schiavo may have to his wife's family serving the disabled in this manner have long since passed their expiration date with regard to any legal right to challenge the use of her name," he wrote.
Gibbs' letter also responded to Schiavo's financial complaint by detailing the Foundation's use of funds. "Three family members work hard to keep the Foundation going at reasonable salaries of only $18,000, $25,000 and $37,000 (for Bobby Schindler as the Executive Director)," wrote Gibbs.
"All this compensation," he continues, "is well below what many non-profit organizations pay their counselors and executives.
"While the percentage of revenue going to salaries is 74%, this is only an indication of the low overhead costs the Foundation maintains and the difficult economic times that all non-profits are currently facing. Were the foundation to raise more money or to spend more on overhead, the percentage going to salaries would be lower," Gibbs explained.
He concludes: "Because the Schindlers are doing their non-profit work cost effectively should not be viewed as a negative but rather as an organizational accomplishment."
Schiavo had not previously threatened to sue because of the use of his wife's name throughout the Foundation's nearly ten-year history. A recent episode of Fox's Family Guy cartoon opened by mocking Terri Schiavo with "Terri Schiavo: The Musical." Bobby Schindler protested the broadcast; Michael Schiavo did not threaten to sue Fox over the use of Terri's name.
"The hatred of this family is pathological and obsessive," wrote bioethics commentator Wesley J. Smith, in response to Mr. Schiavo's latest attack. "I stand wholeheartedly and unreservedly with the Schindler family and against the continual calumny mounted against them."