In this case, appellant introduced no facts supporting her claim that the defendants made any effort to conceal the fact that appellant was under the influence of the drug Thorazine at the time she signed the release. The defendants never refused any request by appellant to obtain the release she signed giving up custody of her child. Further, the defendants made no effort to hide appellant's medical records so as to keep appellant from discovering she was on Thorazine at the time she signed the release. If appellant had made a call to the hospital asking for her medical records, she would have received this information before the statute of limitations had run. Appellant has not made a prima facie showing that the defendants fraudulently concealed any relevant information from her. Thus, the fraudulent concealment version of the discovery rule does not apply to this case.Not even a slap on the wrist for agency's obtaining signature while patient was drugged!
The judge's decision in effect acknowledged that she was drugged at the time her relinquishment was signed, but faults her for failing to investigate the matter sooner! What does this say about the overall tolerance of Utah's legal system when it comes to the procurement of infants by adoption brokers?
So why didn't Nancy send for her records sooner? (Aside from the fact that she assumed all her medical records had been destroyed along with billing records.)
First of all, she believed she could correct the misunderstanding by working with LDS Social Services, directly. Remember that in caseworker Gladys Carling's testimony, she told of being contacted by Nancy immediately following her release from the hospital. Totally bewildered and incredulous as to how she could have signed the surrender and not remember it, Nancy had pleaded with the agency to reverse her relinquishment. LDS Social Services represented her beloved church, in whom she had been taught to trust in all family matters. Surely they would have compassion on her and give her back her son, she believed. Repeatedly, over thirty more contacts with the agency, Nancy was told there was nothing that could be done. Moreover, the agency refused to give her any updated information on her son.
As for her declared failure to obtain her medical records early on, why would she have felt the need to request them? Why would she have suspected anything as horrendous as collaboration between LDS Social Services, physicians and other medical hospital personnel to drug her into oblivion in order to obtain her signature? How would a young, trusting mother who lost her child even begin to suspect such a diabolical - if not criminal - conspiracy?
Timing of Thorazine administrationCase worker Gladys Carling said in her testimony, "If there was no urgency regarding the mother's or child's health, I would visit the mother one or two days after the birth. If the birth mother desired to relinquish the child, I obtained her consent on the standard form release which L.D.S. Social Services used at the time."
As luck would have it, Gladys Carling didn't make it to the hospital the day after Nancy Safsten's baby was born; she went two days later. Had she gone there the next day after the birth (as allowed by Utah law), it would have been the day Nancy had been doped with 150 mg of Thorazine (three doses of 50 mg each)! It's perfectly obvious that Nancy was being pharmaceutically 'prepared' to be presented with the surrender document for her signature as soon as the 24-hour legal waiting period had expired.
So....the social worker didn't show up that day. What then? The 50 mg doses couldn't continue to be administered another day, because Nancy kept passing out. So dosage was reduced to 25 mg three times that day. If 25 mg doses rendered Nancy "passive, indifferent, unaffected" and "sedated" (Carling's words), can you imagine what her condition would have been the day before - on three 50 mg doses? Yet, if Gladys Carling had gone to the hospital that day, she could have requested Nancy Safsten's signature on an irrevocable document, with no other witnesses present. And it would have been perfectly legal according to Utah's adoption laws.
- What physician prescribed Thorazine in these astronomical doses for Nancy, and for what medical reason?
- Why did hospital personnel - nurses, pharmacist/s, administrator/s - participate in this atrocity? Who were they, and the physician, taking orders from, and by whose authority?
- If Nancy had some medical condition that required the administration of heavy doses of Thorazine, why wasn't the signing of a life-altering legal document postponed until she was no longer under the drug's effects?
- It was nice of Gladys Carlin to come forward to testify on Nancy's behalf thirty years after the loss of Nancy's baby. But why on God's green earth did she present for signature and then accept a legal document from a client she admits "was sedated at the time she gave her ostensible consent"? Why didn't she refuse to take the consent until she was satisfied that Nancy was no longer sedated?
- What kind of adoption law allows a birthmother to sign a legally-binding relinquishment of her child in the presence of one witness - the adoption agency's social worker, doubling as Notary Public?
- Where were Carling's supervisors, who should have reviewed all reports, including her tape-recorded observations on Nancy's condition, before proceeding with the adoption?
- Where was the finalizing court's responsibility to review all records, including agency social workers' reports, before accepting a mother's relinquishment and permitting the agency to make an adoptive placement?
- Why weren't this hospital, its staff, and LDS Social Services all investigated as a result of the medical evidence presented in Nancy's lawsuit, whether or not the court ruled in her favor?
- What can be done NOW to bring about an investigation of the activities of Nancy's doctor, the hospital, and LDS Social Services relative to their relinquishment procedures?
- Is anyone monitoring agency social workers and hospitals in Utah NOW?