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Breathing tube mishap leads to legal woes for engaged couple

In a decision handed down on Oct. 2, an Illinois judge refused a Winnebago County woman's request to marry the man she loved. The couple had gotten engaged decades ago and had been living together since 2009. Friends and family of the couple have attested to the love and devotion each holds for the other, witnessed by the commitment and affection between them and their five combined children.

The legal issue appeared when the young woman's fianc? suffered a brain injury related to a workplace accident, which resulted in his inability to move or talk. The man had to undergo back surgery as a result of the incident and during the procedure, a breathing tube mishap caused the patient to suffer an injury resulting from the loss of oxygen to the brain.

Under Illinois law, a couple cannot be issued a marriage license unless they sign the marriage license application in the presence of a county clerk. They cannot do this by proxy. So while everyone agrees the couple deserves to be married, the gentleman is unable to stand up and walk into a court room or county clerk's office

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Legal spokespersons have stated the law is clear on this matter, and there is simply no way around it. The state of Illinois does not accept marriage by proxy. The judge agreed with the county and dismissed the woman's petition to obtain a marriage license

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The woman has continued to argue in court that during her fianc?'s debilitative state, she was awarded the executive power to act in his behalf. She emphasized that some of her decisions are not spelled out exactly in the law, comparing herself to other legal guardians of the elderly or disabled who designate representatives to make legal decisions on their behalf.

The young woman has made several statements to the press that she and her fianc? always planned on getting married; however, they had to keep postponing plans for financial reasons. The woman claims that she has been at her fianc?e's bedside 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that he can receive continuous care. While the man is now able to open his eyes and react to stimuli, he is still unable to appear in court. A malpractice trial has been scheduled for later this year. The defendant for the medical center has declined to release any statements.

Medical malpractice is an issue that can result in far-reaching consequences. In the case of this couple, a mistake not only caused brain damage, but has possibly forever prohibited two people to legally commit to their love.

Source:  wsj.com, "Illinois Woman Loses Bid to Marry Brain-Damaged Fianc?" Jacob Gershman, Oct. 07, 2013

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