Russian Interpreter Services during
Witness Testimony in Case
Involving the Withdrawal of Life Support

Russian Interpreting Services for Attorneys

Russian interpreter services are often utilized during discussions focusing on sensitive legal and medical issues.  End of life decisions are always difficult, but they are even more difficult when family members disagree on what should be the proper course of action for a loved one and when not all family members are fluent in EnglishIn In the Matter of Jane Doe, an Incapacitated Person, 2016 NY Slip Op 26278, a guardianship matter, the petitioner moved for an order enjoining the special guardian for Jane Doe (an incapacitated person), from withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment. As noted below, Russian interpreters were used to translate various witnesses’ testimony in the course of the prolonged litigation.

By way of background, the incapacitated person (“Jane”), was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States with her daughter following a divorce. She remarried and had two more children. In 2003, as a result of complications with her third pregnancy, Jane Doe went into cardiac arrest resulting in respiratory failure and a loss of oxygen to the brain, leaving her with brain damage. She was placed on a ventilator, required a feeding tube, and classified as being in a persistent vegetative state by her doctors.

In 2006, after Jane Doe received a medical malpractice settlement worth over $7 million dollars, her husband, John D., initiated a guardianship proceeding and was appointed as Jane personal needs guardian. In 2012, after learning that John D. was planning on having Jane Doe removed from life support, Jane Doe’s brother, Igor, filed a motion with the court to have John D. removed as Jane Doe’s personal guardian.

In response, John D. filed a motion asking the court to determine that he had the authority to have her withdrawn from life support as her guardian. Extensive litigation ensued, and a year later, John D. and Igor entered into a settlement agreement whereby they agreed that Fern Finkel, an attorney, would serve as Jane’s health surrogate with respect to all medical decisions, including the withdrawal of life support. Ms. Finkel then submitted an order to the court which stated that that Jane was in a persistent vegetative state and recommended the termination of life-sustaining treatment.

Jane’s parents then intervened and asked the court to prevent their daughter from being removed from life support. Further litigation and extensive hearings ensued. Jane’s mother testified through a Russian interpreter. The mother of Jane’s sister-in-law also testified through a Russian interpreter for some of her testimony, but stopped using the interpreter after reporting that the translations were inaccurate. Another relative also used a Russian interpreter and testified that Jane previously stated that if something were to happen to her, that she would want to live for the sake of her children and relatives. Jane’s doctor also testified that she was in a persistent vegetative state and was permanently unconscious.

The court found that the special guardian’s decision to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment from Jane complied with New York law and did not constitute an abuse of discretion. The court stated that “the sole benefit of medical treatment for Jane Doe is to be kept metabolically alive since she has suffered extensive tissue destruction of the brain which is incompatible with any degree of recovering consciousness in the future.” The court further held that “disability is total and no return to an even minimal level of social or human functioning” is possible.

Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to retain a competent Russian to English interpreter specializing in legal and medical interpreting services.

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