A man trying to keep his Alzheimer’s-stricken father away from Dr. Jack Kevorkian won custody of the ailing 69-year-old in a court battle against his own mother.
Probate Judge Fred Mulhauser ruled in favor of Chip Klooster, who feared his mother and siblings were arranging for his father, Gerald Klooster, to kill himself.
“Chip Klooster was apparently the only person who felt bold enough to act,” the judge said. “Through his efforts, it is not too dramatic to say that his father’s life may have been spared.”
Legal experts said it may be the first time someone has gone to court to prevent an assisted suicide by a relative.
Mulhauser ruled that returning Gerald Klooster to his Castro Valley, Calif., home would be dangerous because his wife, Ruth, could pursue her “determined plan” to persuade him to kill himself. The judge extended a temporary order issued in December that gave custody of the elderly man to Chip Klooster.
Gerald Klooster sat quietly through the hearing and showed no reaction. He has been described as mentally incompetent, but his attorney, Scott Eckhold, said the man has some sense that the family is fighting over him.
The elder Klooster retired as an obstetrician and gynecologist after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago.
Chip Klooster said he learned last summer that his mother had joined the Hemlock Society, which supports physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people who want it, and that she had spoken with Kevorkian.
In November, Chip Klooster went down to Florida, where his parents were visiting friends, distracted his mother with a phone call and spirited his father away to Michigan.
Testimony showed Klooster had reserved plane tickets for her and her husband to fly to Detroit last November and had booked a room in a motel near Kevorkian’s home.