The California Court of Appeals on June 30 upheld a decision by a lower court dismissing a civil suit brought by Gayle Quigley against The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and others in the 1992 death of her 12-year-old son, Andrew Wantland.
The boy passed on after a brief illness, later diagnosed as juvenile diabetes. Andrew lived with his father, James Wantland, who engaged a Christian Science practitioner to treat Andrew through prayer. The father also hired a Christian Science visiting nurse service to help care for his son.
Andrew's mother brought the lawsuit in 1993, seeking money damages against Andrew's father (her former husband) as well as the practitioner, the nurse, the nurse service, the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Southern California, and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, which publishes this newspaper.
In 1994, the California Superior Court dismissed the case against all of the defendants except Mr. Wantland, ruling that Mrs. Quigley had no legal claim against them.
Quigley voluntarily dismissed the suit against the boy's father, but appealed the decision regarding the other defendants to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that where a child's legal guardian is involved and capable of making decisions regarding health care, only the guardian has the duty to make those decisions.
The decision could be appealed to the California Supreme Court, but the court is under no obligation to take the case.