Schiavo Case Resources

Key events in the case of Theresa Marie Schiavo


Kathy Cerminara, Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center

Kenneth Goodman, University of Miami Ethics Programs

Acknowledgements and Citation Formats

This copyrighted resource is a joint project of the University of Miami Ethics Programs and the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University. This content may be reproduced for non-commercial, education purposes only, with (i) permission and (ii) appropriate attribution to the source. (For more information, read our copyright policy) Please send comments, suggestions and corrections to Ken Goodman, UM Ethics Programs, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). News media and others seeking comment from Florida Bioethics Network leaders should call 305-243-5723.

The Timeline is in two parts: this page, which covers the years 1963 to 2003, and Schiavo Timeline Part 2, 2004-present.

December 3, 1963

Theresa (Terri) Marie Schindler is born in Pennsylvania.

November 10, 1984

Terri Schindler, 20, and Michael Schiavo, 21, are married at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Southhampton, Pennsylvania. The union is now among the "celebrity marriages" featured at About.com, a Website about marriage.

1986

The couple move to St. Petersburg, where Ms. Schiavo's parents had retired.

February 25, 1990

Ms. Schiavo suffers cardiac arrest, apparently caused by a potassium imbalance and leading to brain damage due to lack of oxygen. She was taken to the Humana Northside Hospital and was later given a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) to provide nutrition and hydration. Police report

May 12, 1990

Ms. Schiavo is discharged from the hospital and taken to the College Park skilled care and rehabilitation facility.

June 18, 1990

Court appoints Michael Schiavo as guardian; Ms. Schiavo’s parents do not object.

June 30, 1990

Ms. Schiavo is transferred to Bayfront Hospital for further rehabilitation efforts.

September 1990

Ms. Schiavo’s family brings her home, but three weeks later they return her to the College Park facility because the family is "overwhelmed by Terri’s care needs.”

November 1990

Michael Schiavo takes Ms. Schiavo to California for experimental "brain stimulator” treatment, an experimental "thalamic stimulator implant” in her brain.

January 1991

The Schiavos return to Florida; Ms. Schiavo is moved to the Mediplex Rehabilitation Center in Brandon where she receives 24-hour care.

July 19, 1991

Ms. Schiavo is transferred to Sable Palms skilled care facility where she receives continuing neurological testing, and regular and aggressive speech/occupational therapy through 1994.

May 1992

Ms. Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, and Michael Schiavo stop living together.

August 1992

Ms. Schiavo is awarded $250,000 in an out-of-court medical malpractice settlement with one of her physicians.

November 1992

The jury in the medical malpractice trial against another of Ms. Schiavo's physicians awards more than one million dollars.  In the end, after attorneys’ fees and other expenses, Michael Schiavo received about $300,000 and about $750,000 was put in a trust fund specifically for Ms. Schiavo’s medical care.

February 14, 1993

Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers have a falling-out over the course of therapy for Ms. Schiavo; Michael Schiavo claims that the Schindlers demand that he share the malpractice money with them.

July 29, 1993

Schindlers attempt to remove Michael Schiavo as Ms. Schiavo’s guardian; the court later dismisses the suit.

March 1, 1994

First guardian ad litem, John H. Pecarek, submits his report.  He states that Michael Schiavo has acted appropriately and attentively toward Ms. Schiavo.

May 6, 1997

Michael Schiavo's attorney Deborah Bushnell writes to the Circuit Court to request that the Schindlers receive notice of all filings in the guardianship proceeding, in anticipation of a forthcoming request to withdraw Ms. Schiavo's PEG tube.
Bushnell Letter

May 1998

Michael Schiavo petitions the court to authorize the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube; the Schindlers oppose, saying that she would want to remain alive.  The court appoints Richard Pearse, Esq., to serve as the second guardian ad litem for Ms. Schiavo.

December 20, 1998

The second guardian ad litem, Richard Pearse, Esq., issues his report in which he concludes that Ms. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of improvement and that Michael Schiavo’s decision-making may be influenced by the potential to inherit the remainder of Ms. Schiavo’s estate.
Pearse GAL Report

January 24, 2000

The trial begins; Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit Court Judge George Greer presides.

Testimony of Father Gerard Murphy

January 25, 2000

Trial transcript

February 11, 2000

Judge Greer rules that Ms. Schiavo would have chosen to have the PEG tube removed, and therefore he orders it removed, which, according to doctors, will cause her death in approximately 7 to 14 days.
Trial Court Ruling

March 2, 2000

The Schindlers file a petition with Judge Greer to allow "swallowing” tests to be performed on Ms. Schiavo to determine if she can consume—or learn to consume—nutrients on her own.

March 7, 2000

Judge Greer denies the Schindlers’ petition to perform "swallowing” tests on Ms. Schiavo.

March 24, 2000

Judge Greer grants Michael Schiavo’s petition to limit visitation to Ms. Schiavo as well as to bar pictures.  Judge Greer also stays his order until 30 days beyond the final exhaustion of all appeals by the Schindlers.

Greer Stay and Order Limiting Visitation

January 24, 2001

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal (2nd DCA) upholds Judge Greer’s ruling that permits the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube.

In re Schiavo, 780 So. 2d 176 (2nd DCA 2001), rehearing denied (Feb. 22, 2001), review denied, 789 So. 2d 348 (Fla. 2001).  (Case No.: SC01-559)

DCA Ruling

February 22, 2001

The Schindler family’s motion for an Appellate Court rehearing is denied.

March 12, 2001

Michael Schiavo petitions  Judge Greer to lift his stay, issued March 24, 2000, in order to permit the removal of Ms. Shiavo’s PEG tube.

March 29, 2001

Judge Greer denies Michael Schiavo’s motion to lift stay issued on March 24, 2000; Michael Schiavo can remove Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube at 1 p.m. on April 20.

Greer Order

April 10, 2001

The 2nd DCA denies the Schindlers’ motion to extend Judge Greer’s stay, which is scheduled to expire April 20, 2001.

DCA Order

April 12, 2001

The Schindlers file a motion requesting that Judge Greer recuse himself.

The Schindlers petition the Florida Supreme Court to stay the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube.

Motion for Stay Part 1

Motion for Stay Part 2

Court’s Request for Response from Schiavo

April 16, 2001

Judge Greer denies the Schindlers’ motion to recuse himself.

April 18, 2001

The Florida Supreme Court chooses not to review the decision of the 2nd DCA.

In re Schiavo, 789 So. 2d 248 (Fla. 2001).  Case No.: SC01-559

Schindler family’s Notice to Appeal to Supreme Court

Schindlers’ Jurisdictional Brief Part 1

Schindlers’ Jurisdictional Brief Part 2

Order Denying Rehearing and Motion for Stay

April 20, 2001

Federal District Court Judge Richard Lazzara grants the Schindlers a stay until April 23, 2001, to exhaust all their possible appeals.

April 23, 2001

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court refuses to stay the case for a review by that Court.

April 24, 2001

By order of trial court Judge Greer, and upon issuance of a 2nd DCA mandate, Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube is removed

April 26, 2001

The Schindlers file an emergency motion with Judge Greer for relief from judgment based upon new evidence, which includes a claim that a former girlfriend of Michael Schiavo will testify that he lied about Ms. Schiavo’s wishes; Judge Greer dismisses the motion as untimely. Also on this date, the Schindlers file a new civil suit that claims that Michael Schiavo perjured himself when he testified that Ms. Schiavo had stated an aversion to remaining on life support.  Pending this new civil trial, Circuit Court Judge Frank Quesada orders Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube to be reinserted.

April 30, 2001

Michael Schiavo files an emergency motion with the 2nd DCA to allow the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube.

May 9, 2001

The 2nd DCA announces a date for the hearing of oral arguments regarding Michael Schiavo’s motion of April 30, 2001.

June 25, 2001

Arguments in 2nd DCA regarding Michael Schiavo’s motion of April 30, 2001.

July 11, 2001

The 2nd DCA remands the case back to Judge Greer.  (1) The 2nd DCA informs the Schindlers that they must address both their desire to have new evidence heard and their perjury claim against Michael Schiavo within the original guardianship proceeding; further, the Schindlers are instructed to file a new motion for relief from judgment in the guardianship proceeding. (2) The 2nd DCA instructs Judge Greer to weigh the Schinders’ new evidence in making a new determination of what Ms. Schiavo would have wanted. (3) The 2nd DCA denies Michael Schiavo’s request to discontinue the PEG tube.

In re Schiavo, 792 So. 2d 551 (2nd DCA 2001).

DCA Order

August 7, 2001

After the 2nd DCA remands the case back to Judge Greer, he again finds that Michael Schiavo may remove Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube on August 28.

August 10, 2001

Judge Greer denies the Schindlers' motion (1) to have their own doctors examine Ms. Schiavo, (2) to remove Michael Schiavo as her guardian, and (3) to disqualify himself from the proceedings.

August 17, 2001

Judge Greer delays the removal of Ms. Schiavo's PEG tube until October 9 in order to allow the Schindlers time to appeal.

October 3, 2001

The 2nd DCA delays the removal of the PEG tube indefinitely.

October 17, 2001

The 2nd DCA rules that 5 doctors should examine Ms. Schiavo to determine if she can improve with new medical treatment.  The Schindlers and Michael Schiavo are to choose 2 doctors each, and the court is to appoint a doctor.  The appeals court also affirms Greer’s denial of the motion to disqualify himself

In re Schiavo, 800 So. 2d 640 (2nd DCA 2001).

DCA Ruling

November 1, 2001

The 2nd DCA denies Michael Schiavo’s motion to rehear the case.

December 14, 2001

Michael Schiavo petitions the Florida Supreme Court to stay the October 17, 2001, ruling of the 2nd DCA.  He states that he and the Schindlers will attempt to mediate the dispute in lieu of further litigation.

Michael Schiavo’s Notice of Appeal to the Florida Supreme Court

Michael Schiavo’s Motion to Stay DCA’s Ruling.

December 19, 2001

Attorneys meet with a mediator to determine which tests doctors should run on Ms. Schiavo.

January 10, 2002

State Supreme Court stays all legal proceedings pending mediation; it orders attorneys to report on the status of mediation in sixty days.

Supreme Court Order of Stay

February 13, 2002

Mediation between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo fails.

Notice that Mediation Failed.

March 14, 2002

The Florida Supreme Court denies Michael Schiavo’s petition to review the 2nd DCA’s ruling allowing 5 doctors to examine Ms. Schiavo.

In re Schiavo, 816 So. 2d 127 (Fla. 2002) (Table, No. SC01-2678)

2-13-02 Michael Schiavo’s Jurisdictional Petition.

2-13-02 Michael Schiavo’s Petition to Stay ruling of 2nd DCA (10/17/01).

2-22-02 Court’s Order of Stay pending its final decision.

3-01-02 Schindler’s Jurisdictional Brief

3-13-01 Michael Schiavo’s Motion to Strike

3-14-01  Order Denying Schiavo’s Petition

3-14-01  Order to Strike

October 12-22, 2002

The trial court holds a new hearing on new potential medical treatments.

November 15, 2002

The Schindlers contend that Michael Schiavo might have abused Ms. Schiavo and this abuse led to her condition. They ask the court for more time to collect evidence, and to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian.

Petition to remove MS as guardian

November 22, 2002

Judge Greer rules that Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube should be removed January 3, 2003.

In re Schiavo, 2002 WL 31817960 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Nov. 22, 2002)(No. 90-2908-GB-003)

Nov22 2002 TC  trialctorder11-02.txt

December 13, 2002

Judge Greer stays his November 22 ruling: Ms. Schiavo should not have her PEG tube removed until an appeals court can rule on the case.

December 23, 2002

The 2nd DCA denies a motion Michael Schiavo filed seeking permission to remove the PEG tube.

June 6, 2003

The 2nd DCA, affirming Judge Greer’s November 2002 ruling, concludes that Michael Schiavo can remove Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube on October 15.

In re Schiavo, 851 So. 2d 182 (2nd DCA 2003) (No. 2D02-5394), rehearing denied (July 9, 2003),  review denied 855 So. 2d 621 (Fla. 2003).

6-06-03 Court Opinion

July 9, 2003

The 2nd DCA refuses to reconsider its decision.

August 22, 2003

The Florida Supreme Court declines to review the decision.

Schindler v. Schiavo, 855 So. 2d 621 (Fla. 2003) (Table, No. SC03-1242)

7-24-03 Notice of Schindlers Appeal

7-31-03 Michael Schiavo’s Motion to Vacate

Court Order denying Motion to Vacate

8-07-03 Schindler's Petition for a Supreme Court Review

8-13-03 Michael Shiavo’s Response to Petition for Review

8-18-03 Schindlers motion for a Stay

8-19-03 Court Orders Schiavo to make a Respond for the Motion for Stay

8-20-03 Shiavo’s Response to Motion for Stay

8-22-03 Court Order denying Review and Motion for Stay

August 30, 2003

Ms. Schiavo’s parents file a federal lawsuit challenging the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube. Schiavos’ petition (D). Schindler v. Schiavo, Civil Action No. 8:03-CV-1860-T-26-T-TGW

September 17, 2003

Judge Greer orders the removal of the PEG tube to take place on October 15, 2003. He also rejects the Schindlers’ request that Ms. Schiavo be given therapy to learn how to eat without the tube.

9-17-03 Court Order

October 7, 2003

Governor Jeb Bush files a federal court brief in support of the Schindlers’ effort to stop the removal of the PEG tube.

October 10, 2003

Federal Court Judge Richard Lazzara rules that he lacks the jurisdiction to hear the federal case.

October 14, 2003

The 2nd DCA refuses to block Judge Greer’s order to remove the PEG tube.

October 15, 2003

Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube is once again removed.

October 17, 2003

The Florida Circuit Court in Pinellas County and the First District Court of Appeal refuse to grant a request by "supporters" of the Schindlers to direct Gov. Bush to intervene in the case.

October 19, 2003

The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. files a federal court lawsuit that claims that the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube is abuse and neglect.

Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. v. Schiavo, No. 8:03-CV-2167-T-23EAJ

October 20, 2003

The Florida House of Representatives passes a bill, "Terri’s Law,” that allows the governor to issue a "one-time stay in certain cases.”

House Bill 35-E

October 21, 2003

The Florida Senate passes the bill; Governor Bush issues an executive order directing reinsertion of the PEG tube and appointing a guardian ad litem for Ms. Schiavo.

Executive Order

Statements by Some House members

Michael Schiavo files a state-court lawsuit arguing that "Terri’s Law” is unconstitutional and seeking an injunction to stop the reinsertion of the PEG tube; the court requests briefs on the Constitutional arguments about "Terri’s Law.”

Schiavo Injunction

Schiavo v. Bush. No. 03-008212-CI-20 (Cir. Ct. Pinellas County, Florida).

The federal court denies the motion for a temporary restraining order filed in the lawsuit of the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc.

Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. v. Schiavo, 2003 WL 23305833, 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D 291 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 21, 2003).

US District Court Order

Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube is reinserted.

October 22, 2003

David Demers, Chief Judge for the Pinellas County Circuit Court, orders both the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo to agree within 5 days on an independent guardian ad litem as required under the Governor’s order.  ("Terri’s Law” directs: "Upon issuance of the stay, the chief judge of the circuit court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the patient to make recommendations to the Governor and the court.”)

Schiavo's Response

Schindlers' Response

October 28, 2003

President George W. Bush praises the way his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, has handled the Schiavo matter.

Transcript of Rose Garden Press Conference

October 29, 2003

Michael Schiavo files court papers in his state-court lawsuit, arguing that "Terri’s Law” is unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union has joined Michael Schiavo.

Michael Schiavo petitioner brief

October 31, 2003

Judge Demers appoints Dr. Jay Wolfson as Ms. Schiavo’s guardian ad litem. Dr. Wolfson holds both medical and legal degrees; he is also a public health professor at the University of South Florida.  He is supposed to represent Ms. Schiavo’s best interest in court, but he has no authority to make decisions for her.

10-31-03 GAL Appointment

November 4, 2003

Governor Jeb Bush asks Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird to dismiss Michael Schiavo’s suit (filed October 21, 2003) that challenges "Terri’s Law.”

November 8, 2003

Judge Baird denies Governor Bush’s motion to dismiss the state-court suit.

November 10, 2003

Governor Bush appeals Judge Baird’s decision; the filing of the appeal has the effect of staying the removal of Ms. Schiavo’s PEG tube.

November 14, 2003

Judge Baird vacates the stay.

11-14-03 Order vacating stay.

November 14, 2003

In response to Judge Baird’s lifting the stay, the 2nd DCA issues an indefinite stay.

November 19, 2003

Governor Bush files a petition to remove Judge Baird.

11-19-03 Petition

November 21, 2003

Florida Sens. Stephen Wise and Jim Sebesta introduce legislation (S692) that would require persons in persistent vegetative states to be administered medically supplied nutrition and hydration in the absence of a living will, regardless of family beliefs about what those patients would have wanted. The measure is withdrawn from consideration on April 16, 2004.

Text of bill to require sustenence when no living will exists

December 1, 2003

University of South Florida Prof. Jay Wolfson, guardian ad litem, concludes in his report that Ms. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no chance of improvement.

Wolfson's  Report

Governor Bush's response to Wolfson's report

December 10, 2003

The 2nd DCA refuses to remove Judge Baird, who is the presiding judge in the state-court lawsuit filed October 21, 2003. 

Bush v. Schiavo, 861 So. 2d 506 (2nd DCA 2003) (No. 2D03-5244)

Court Opinion

 

Timeline, Part 2