Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Convoluted Case: How a Contentious Michigan Guardianship Devolved into a Probate Court Battle That Could Affect All Bloggers’ Rights

An Oakland County Probate Court judge is being asked by a court-appointed guardian to issue a ruling on May 4 that could ultimately impact all bloggers’ rights to free speech.

Oakland County Probate Court Judge Kathleen Ryan has been asked by Steve (Steven) Siporin of Royal Oak, Mich.-based  Siporin & Associates to order a Farmington Hills, Mich. man to, among other things, redact all references on the website to persons or organizations associated with the case involving one of his wards.

Tom Nithyanand
Siporin has been sole guardian of the ward – Tom Nithyanand – since last July. Nithyanand, 21, and his family, including his father, Anand Sadashivan, admit to not learning enough about how such a guardianship could essentially set Tom back in his recovery from a 2010 traumatic brain injury.

To help others avoid the situation they launched LearnFromTom.com to raise awareness of how a guardianship can go wrong and prompt Michigan legislators to take action as their counterparts in Ohio recently have done.

Anand Adishivan
“LearnFromTom.com is a blog we launched that contains facts that we believed to be true at the time of posting and our opinions,” says Anand.

“We want to help people. We believed that was the intent of the guardian when he met with us a year ago so it seems odd that he is so anxious about the blog.”

Monday’s hearing in Pontiac is a result of Anand petitioning the court to remove Siporin as guardian, claiming his son has not improved since Siporin became guardian in July 2014. In fact, the family claims Tom has worsened in many ways over the course of the year.

Originally, the family asked for a court-appointed guardian because Tom received a large insurance settlement as a result of being hit while walking in 2010. As non-U.S. citizens, the family asked the court to appoint a co-guardian. Siporin and the family met a couple of times in early 2014 and Anand says a kind of trust was established – so much so that Anand asked the court to appoint Siporin.

When Anand and Tom argued over spending money last June, Siporin used a typical father/son verbal spat to get a court order that named him sole guardian and gave him the right to take Tom from his home and to Rainbow Rehabilitation of Farmington Hills. It also gave him control over all of Tom’s medical care and assets, such as the limitless funds received by Tom through Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws and intended to be used for his continued recovery.

At first, Tom was confined to remain under care of Rainbow Rehabilitation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That loosened at the end of 2014 and he’s been able to go home on weekends since. But the fact remains that every Monday he must go back to Rainbow Rehabilitation.

“It’s amazing and scary how fast things involving my son’s well-being devolved from Mr. Siporin sitting with us, establishing trust and developing the framework of a plan for my son’s future to a debate over basic media law,” says Anand. “Let us not forget the point – we asked for help. We do not want others to have to needlessly go through what we have, so we started our
LearnFromTom.com blog to raise awareness of how the system can work or not work.”

Full Article and Source:


StandUp said...

The guardian improperly uses HIPAA to shut down the other side of the story.

Anonymous said...

How sad is it that this father wanted help for his child, and the guardian after smelling some money, wants to deny him his first amendment right to free speech. Constitutional lawyers should be all over this.

Betty said...

It's also a privacy issue, StandUp. I agree the guardian is using muscle to shut down the blog, but is the blog the right place to have this debate about the case? I am not sure it's appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Law Schools in that State need to start hearing about some of these cases.