Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Chronicles of Annette: What next for "Sheila" Annette Lewis?

I've written before on the sad case of Annette Lewis, the Alberta woman who reportedly needs a double lung transplant to survive, and who was convinced by what I can only assume are sleazy, opportunistic, self-serving lawyers to refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which is a requirement under Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines for potential lung transplant candidates. Said lawyers convinced Lewis to take her case through the Alberta courts and all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, all of which ruled pointedly and unambiguously that Lewis has no argument, and that it is the responsibility of the AHS to define the guidelines for the selection of transplant candidates.

Let me say that again so there is no misunderstanding -- Lewis was unequivocally rebuffed by the King's Court of Alberta, then the Alberta Court of Appeal, whereupon the Supreme Court of Canada saw no need to interfere with those rulings and refused to hear her case. In other words, she lost spectacularly at every level, which is important for what happens next.

Apparently, after all of the above, Lewis retained another lawyer to sue the associated doctors for malpractice, but ... well, I'll let the ambulance-chasing yobs at Rebel News summarize what happened next:

As you can see, after filing her meritless malpractice action, there was some sort of confidential "settlement", which Rebel News weirdly speculated involved the AHS putting Lewis back on the transplant list. I'm sure you can see why this speculation is the height of idiocy given that, since the AHS had won their argument all the way to the Supreme Court, what sense would it make for the AHS to totally capitulate at this point? What sort of logic would that represent?

In an earlier post, I speculated that, at most, the settlement might represent an offer by the AHS that, if Lewis dropped her idiotic suit, the AHS would not file for discontinuance costs, or something innocuous like that. It is simply inconceivable that the AHS' settlement would include putting Lewis back on the transplant list, but since the settlement is confidential, I guess we'll never know. But there's a couple more issues related to that.

Why would such a settlement be confidential if, in fact, the AHS agreed to re-instate Lewis to the list of transplant candidates? Because if Lewis was quietly and secretly put back on that list, I would think that people who are candidates and were bumped down the list because of that would have their own reasons to sue the AHS for not following its own rules. The idea that Lewis might have been re-instated, and that other potential candidates would not be allowed to know that, strikes me as a potentially massive legal clusterfuck. But there's one more issue related to this.

Over at Lewis' fundraiser, Lewis is still actively raising money, but there is no update since July 18 (shortly after the "settlement"), and I would think that anyone who cares about the integrity of the AHS' transplant candidate selection process might want to know what is going on. Put another way, the confidentiality of that "settlement" seems just a little creepy, as it makes one suspect that there is something untoward happening here.

There may be times when a confidential settlement makes sense -- it doesn't seem like this is one of them. I submit that anyone who is counting on the AHS to make candidate selection decisions based solely on medical criteria has the right to ask what the hell happened here.

And, no, we're not done here.

BONUS TRACK: According to the cat box liner that is the Western Standard, it would seem that the settlement relates specifically to the recent negligence lawsuit filed by Lewis' ethically vacuous lawyer:

"Alberta resident Sheila Annette Lewis has reached a resolution in her negligence lawsuit against the doctors who denied her an organ transplant because of her vaccine status."

That would seem to indicate that the settlement is associated only with that action, and not the earlier set of court cases, so it's highly unlikely that Lewis is back on the AHS transplant candidate list. However, it is exceedingly odd that there is next to no news about Lewis ever since July 18 of this year, even though her fundraiser is still active. Something seems ... odd.

ONE MORE THING: It is worth pointing out that, as explained at Lewis' fundraising page, if Lewis wants to get this operation done in the U.S. (which was the basis for the fundraiser in the first place), the cost of testing alone to see if she is a viable candidate is listed as around $100,000 (USD), while the operation itself would cost upwards of $500,000 (USD). As you can see, not only has that fundraiser page pulled in just barely enough to cover the testing, but the donations recently have effectively stalled:

If you're looking to collect another half a million, getting a couple hundred dollars over a week and a half is not going to cut it -- not even close. In short, other than someone dropping half a mil in that fundraiser, that American operation is simply not happening. So what is Lewis' plan now? And what is going to happen with all that money? I think it's safe to say that, in all of this, only the lawyers have made out like bandits.


Anonymous said...

There's definitely something curious about how, since that confidential settlement, there's been nothing online about Lewis. Since the AHS won all those court cases, why would the AHS settle? And how can Lewis keep fundraising if she's not allowed to talk about her status? And where is all that money going? So many questions.

Anonymous said...

I doubt very much she's been returned to the candidates list; partly, as you point out, because of potential liability regarding more eligible candidates, and partly because a life-saving, transplantable set of lungs are too valuable to waste on a dying old woman (sorry to be crass, but the calculus of transplant survival is pretty brutal).

I'm guessing AHS offered her a pittance to drop the malpractice suit, partly to save time and legal costs and partly for the optics. It's clear the Rebel and its ilk were preparing to make this poor woman a poster girl for COVID resistance, ignoring the facts as usual.

Her funding site now includes a couple of demurrers specifying "yeah, we know we said it was for a transplant, but if that DOESN'T happen, we'd love to spend your money on her ongoing "living expenses" (which, of course, means anything at all). If you REALLY want your money back, you heartless bastards, we'll refund it, but we'd really rather just keep it, if that's okay with you."

Anonymous said...

Even if Lewis finally accepted a COVID-19 shot, would the AHS have any obligation to re-instate her to the list, or maybe even give her priority? Given how she's been such a disruptive and expensive pain in the ass, does the AHS have the right to just refuse to have anything to do with her? I'm guessing, legally, they can't do that, but given that transplants can be scheduled quite a bit in advance, it may be that the AHS has already scheduled the next several transplant candidates and she'd have to wait her turn (if she even lives that long).

At this point, I'm not sure what her options are, given how she's burned so many bridges and pissed off so many people.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of a possible "settlement" that might make sense. Like above, I think it's likely that the AHS offered that, if Lewis dropped that ridiculous negligence lawsuit, they would forego asking for costs (and I'm assuming costs would have been substantial by this time).

But would it make sense that the settlement stipulated that, if Lewis finally gave in and got the COVID-19 shot so she could get back on the AHS candidate list, all those costs would kick back in and she'd probably have to use everything in that fundraiser to cover them?

I think that's a possibility, and it matches what is written at the fundraiser, "The settlement is subject to very stringent confidentiality provisions, with very significant consequences to Sheila if that confidentiality is breached." I think my guess is as good as anyone else's.

CC said...

Anon @ 10:05 AM: Your speculation actually makes sense. Given that Lewis is running a fundraiser to get her operation in the U.S., the AHS might have thought it was worth it to forego demanding their costs as long as Lewis dropped her action and further agreed to fuck off and leave them alone from now on.

However, if Lewis finally caves and gets the COVID-19 shot and then demands to be back on the AHS candidate list, it would be ethically sleazy to do that and insist on keeping everything donated to her fundraiser. You might have a point.

Again, this is all speculation. But it's still weird that this settlement is confidential. Who is hiding what?

MgS said...

CC @ 10:25:

“But it’s still weird that this settlement is confidential.”

Not really - out of court settlements with government bodies are often accompanied by non-disclosure agreements as well. I suspect strongly that this is in order to minimize the chances of whatever particulars are in the settlement being leveraged later on by other parties.

Informally, this was happening a lot in Alberta between 2009 and 2012 when funding for gender reassignment surgeries had been cancelled by the government. An informal process emerged whereby people would file human rights complaints, which it was cheaper to settle rather than fight. Even if nobody in the trans community talked about the particulars of their individual settlements, word certainly got out that people were getting their surgeries funded.

My guess is that the settlement has a confidentiality agreement in place both to safeguard the government from future similar actions, and to prevent Lewis from making further unwarranted statements. I do find it interesting that Lewis herself has been silent / not making appearances related to this matter since the announcement of this settlement. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is a tidy little pool of cash involved to “permit her to pursue alternate paths” (and to ensure her silence).

CC said...

MgS: You wrote: "I do find it interesting that Lewis herself has been silent / not making appearances related to this matter since the announcement of this settlement."

That's what I find so odd ... is she now not allowed to say *anything* about her situation? Can she still promote her fundraising? How are donors supposed to know her plans? That's what I thought was so weird.

MgS said...

CC: Were I to make a bet on such matters, my bet would be that she is under strict instructions not to lie about the matter publicly, or whatever agreement / compensation has been reached will be clawed back.

In other words, she knows damn good and well that her eligibility for transplant rests upon a series of factors, and she is a non-candidate because she does not meet at least one of the major criteria. (Possibly more given the progression of disease)

CC said...

MgS: Ah, that makes sense. For many months, Canada's right-wing grift factories have covered this story with maudlin, tear-jerking sensationalism ... "They're sentencing her to death for wanting to control what goes into her body!!!", and screeching rhetoric like that, when anyone who read the actual court rulings could see that the court considered the issue at length and followed the law. Nonetheless, the incendiary rhetoric made it necessary to hide the identities of the doctors involved out of fear for their well-being.

So it would make sense if, in exchange for cutting Lewis some financial slack, the demand from the AHS would be to knock off that dangerous shit-talking and stop misrepresenting the situation.

Yeah, I can see that.