Why aren't the feeders of immobile 900-lb people charged with negligent homicide or something?

In the latest case, a man weighing around 900 pounds died after he had to be cut out of his chair in home, reports CBS affiliate WSPA-TV from Greenwood, S.C. Authorities say he was stuck to a chair for nine months. Cite: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/19/national/main5715072.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody Apparently he weighed “only” 550 lbs when he took to the chair, and nine months later died after gaining another 350 pounds.

Then there is this guy: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/20/AR2005092001841.html His wife Gina bought him tons (literally) of fattening food as he lay dying of heart diesease caused by his obesity.

If you are trapped in a chair immoble for nine months, you are not going to the grocery store and buying your own food. Someone else is buying it for you, cooking it and serving it to you. In both the above cases, it was the men’s wives doing this.

1 pound of fat = 3500 calories. So for the first guy to gain 350 lbs over nine months, he would need to eat 350 x 3500 = 1,225,000 MORE calories than he burned off. This averages out to just under and extra 5 THOUSAND calories per day that his wife was delivering to him. Put in perspective, that would be like the wife bringing him NINE big macs every day in addition to his regular meals. I don’t get it. Why are these feeders not charged with anything? A charge of negligent homicide seems to fit here, how are they just getting off scot free?

The feeder didn’t force the person to eat that food though?
You don’t put a husband in jail for buying his invalid wife her cigarettes when she dies of cancer.

It’s called personal responsibility and the freedom to do what you want with your body. We don’t need more laws making somebody else responsible for somebody else’s decision on their body.

Were the morbidly obese person unconscious and being force fed you have a reason to go after the caregiver.

I think the dumbasses that feed these enormous lobs are wrong and contribute to the problem; just ain’t sure how that plays out legally.

Sorry, I know this isn’t IMHO, but my point is to say that it’d be hard to prosecute, unless a doctor ordered X not to happen and someone did X despite the warning. I think it would have to become that cut and dry for it to be a legal matter.

Even then I don’t think it would matter. If my doctor said “One more drink and you’ll die” and my wife said “Here honey, have a beer” it certainly wouldn’t be her fault when I drink it and die (ethically maybe, but not legally). ISTM that would set a strange new precedent for murder.

Replace the word food with painkillers. Painkillers aren’t necessarily illegal or poisonous. Yet if you kept supplying someone painkillers til they offed themselves you’d be in deep trouble.

Maybe this food thing needs to be revisited. I think it does cross the line when you “enable” someone to continue an unquestionably destructive lifestyle.

I agree with this. To go further, I would say that the caregiver is not acting ethically or morally by enabling that self-destructive behavior and they should be ashamed of themselves for it. However, we live in a society that is supposed to value personal liberty and holding one person responsible for the decisions of another undermines that principle.

OKay, so suppose the guy’s doctor told his wife in no uncertain terms that if she keeps bringing her husband bagsful or junkfood, he will die.

She does it anyway. There is proof, including video and receipts from the fast-food restaurants and grocery stores where she is seen purchasing the food. Neighbors see her lugging the bags into the trailer. There are fast-food wrappers and garbage knee-deep beside the dead man’s chair.

So, would this be enough to charge her with something?

His was a messed-up story all around. From what I could gather:

When his parents died, he inherited the house where he, his wife, and his handicapped sister lived.
The house was paid for, so he had no rent/mortgage. I don’t think his wife worked. He was immobile, and his younger sister was mentally retarded.
However, he still had to pay taxes. When he didn’t the county sold the house, and he was evicted.
(The television doc “The 750-pound Man” glossed over this, and started with his having to move.)

For an even worse, one, watch the doc “The Half Ton Man.” It’s on youtube in six parts, I think.
That person, (the still-living) Patrick Deuel from Nebraska, weighed over a half ton, lost to below 400 pounds a couple of years ago (gastric bypass surgery), and is now, according to various reports, immobile again. I don’t think his story will end well, either. The version on youtube is the original UK production. There were a few minor edits for the US version.

And none of this does anything to answer the OP.

I don’t think that has anything to do with this. First off, Pain Killers can be addictive so there’s that whole thing, second of all, either you have to get a prescription from someone who should be responsible enough to make sure you don’t take them in such a way to harm yourself OR you’re getting them illegally.

I think something should be done … Don’t get me wrong, I’m fat, and my husband shops for groceries BUT I plan the menus and I am not eating myself into a piano case coffin!

I can sort of see how it can happen though, I had to leave a guy who couldn’t seem to understand that I can’t eat like normal people. he would try to get me all sorts of stuff that is NOT what my nutritionist wanted me to eat. He would get me coffee, sweetened with sugar instead of sweet and low [back when that was all that was available] and bring me candy, and order dessert when we went to dinner and act all hurt when I didnt eat it … and this was when I was skinny. He couldn’t come up with a good answer as to why he kept getting this crap for me just that I should eat it because he cared enough to want to get me the very then expensive godiva ballotins, or order expensive and elaborate meals and desserts and I should be grateful and eat whatever :dubious:

Right. And in that documentary (you can watch it on youtube), the film crew is in Patrick’s house at one point. As his wife is cooking a very fattening and large breakfast, she says something to the effect of “Patrick need to be on a very low-calorie diet”. The film producer asks her “So Edie, how many calories are in that breakfast you are making him”? And unbelievably, she flippantly shrugs and says “I have no idea”. :rolleyes::confused::mad:

The camera pans around the kitchen and we see piles and piles of pizza boxes, KFC buckets and soda bottles overflowing from the trash and on the floor.

Maybe these wives are actually killing their spouses on purpose because they are so demanding and disgusting to live with anymore…

I don’t buy this. If they’re prescription and not for that person, sure. If they’re for that person and you’re somehow manipulating the prescription, sure. But if it’s obtained legally, like tons of otc medication or you have a doctor willing to fill out prescriptions without a lot of care, how would you get in trouble?

And even if it is something that you can get in trouble, that doesn’t mean it’s something that someone should get in trouble for. At what point does bringing food home to an obese spouse become enabling? If a woman brings home a bucket of fried chicken for her 350 lbs husband, is that enabling? What if he’s 500 lbs? What if he’s not overweight but has high cholesterol or he’s diabetic and she brings him a cake? Is it enabling if the guy is paying for it himself, orders out his own food if she refuses, and yells and screams at her whenever she suggests he might need help?

It’s easy to say that a woman feeding a guy that’s stuck in a chair is enabling, but at what point does it go from irresponsible to criminally negligent? At what point does she share responsibility for his poor decisions?

I completely agree that it crosses a moral line, but aren’t we trying to move away from legislating morality? Even if these women weren’t feeding them, do you imagine that these men would be meaningfully healthier?

I remember a specific case on one of those Discovery or TLC shows about some 800 lbs man whose family was feeding him around 12000 calories a day. Why? Because if they didn’t, he’d get the food anyway and rather than being able to prepare the food and have it be slightly less bad for him, he’d just order out and get fried chicken, pizza, burgers… whatever. He even had a deal worked out with the delivery people where he’d lower a bucket out of his apartment window with the money in it and they’d put the food in it so he could get the food from his bed. Surely, this man’s family was enabling him because they were feeding him enough to keep him super morbidly obese, right?

The facepalm in that case (I recall watching it also) was that the family kept giving the man cash to do this with. Take away his cash, credit cards and debit cards and that problem is solved. :smack:

Wasn’t the guy who let his agoraphobic girlfriend get stuck to toilet charged with some kind of neglect? I can’t recall the specifics.

On the other hand, a drunk will continue to order drinks even as he is about to pass out. The bartender has a legal obligation to cut him off well before this point. If he serves someone that drunk, pleading that it was the drunk’s responsibility isn’t going to cut it. When feeding someone is literally killing them, I don’t see much difference between the feeder and the bartender.

The frightening thing is actually beyond the food issue. Some of these larger/immobile patients become a living part of their furniture. Their body envelops the mattress or sofa/chair cushions, and they are interconnected to the furnishings… toilet… whatever.

I guess if they eat voluntarily, and there is no specific warning, it’s all gray area legally. I guess it is not as cut and dry as “if you open peanuts near your daughter she will go into shock and die”.

A cop friend of mine tells me of a time they removed a women and her mattress (together) from a bed. The son left her to rot to the bed so he could take her Social Security checks. She was one huge piece of rotting flesh. He wasn’t charged with neglect, but was charged with theft.

A good analogy is the parents who can’t control their three-year old’s eating habits. They never say “no” and can’t tolerate any tantrums, so their kid eats boxes and boxes of cereal and gets all the junk food they want, because the parents can’t stand the whining.

What’s the legal situation in the US re. providing food for and generally caring for people who are immobile? Do these people have a legally appointed caregiver? And to what degree is the caregiver responsible for them?

I assume it would be considered a crime if the opposite happened - Mrs. 900lbs Man stops feeding him altogether, and lets him starve to death.

But would that ever happen? Could he not just live off his fat reserves until he lost enough weight to be mobile again?

I thought I recalled that he had a job that he could do over the phone like a computer help line or something. I could be mistaken.

There is an important distinction here. The bartender is operating as part of a business and, like it or not, businesses are regulated more stringently, especially with regard to things like alcohol. While I would tend to agree that they are morally equivalent, and that neither the bartender, the bar, or the feeder should bare any responsibility, I don’t think they make a good analogy legally.

I think this is different as well. A three-year-old is not legally able to make any decisions for himself and the parents have a legal responsibility to care for him. Thus, a situation like this involving a minor would necessarily involve some form of neglect or child abuse or something.

No. I believe Cecil did a column on it, but I can’t seem to find it now. Anyway, sure you could get enough energy to survive from just burning fat, but you’d still need water and a source of nutrition. Without it, you’d probably develop scurvy or some other nasty diseases.