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Islands Hospice, doctor dismissed in death doula case

Civil suit defendants Heather and Rob Parsons remain

WAILUKU — Islands Hospice and Dr. Paul Kaiwi Jr. have been dismissed as defendants in a lawsuit brought by the family of a 57-year-old Kihei woman who died after being assisted by a “death doula.”

The dismissals of the defendants were without prejudice, so they could be brought back into the lawsuit.

Heather Parsons and her husband, Rob Parsons, remain as defendants in the pending civil case filed in April in 2nd Circuit Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Heather Parsons befriended Fay Block, became her primary caregiver, and “in a matter of months orchestrated the victim changing all of her estate planning documents, getting the victim to convey all of her assets to the death doula, and starving, dehydrating and drugging the victim to death.”

Wailuku attorney Anthony Ranken, who represents the Parsons, has said Heather Parsons was helping Block “implement her own wishes and providing her solace and support.”

He said Parsons didn’t drug the woman and followed the hospice plan for pain relief.

A death doula, also known as a death midwife, is described as a person who assists in the dying process.

Block hadn’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was suffering from chronic foot pain before she died at home April 24, 2017, according to the lawsuit.

A criminal investigation into her death has been assigned to the Honolulu prosecutor’s office, after the Maui County prosecutor’s office had a conflict with the case.

In an order filed Aug. 22 in the civil case, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo granted Islands Hospice’s motion to dismiss claims against the business. The order said the court lacked jurisdiction because the claims against Islands Hospice are “medical torts” and are required to be submitted to the Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel before litigation is started.

A similar request by Kaiwi had been scheduled to be heard in court last month before an agreement was filed to have claims against Kaiwi dismissed without prejudice.

While Heather Parsons disclaimed her interest in Block’s other assets during court probate proceedings, Parsons retained possession of Block’s three-bedroom house on Hoalike Street in Kihei, according to court records. On March 7, 2017, the month before her death, Block had transferred ownership of the house to Parsons for $10, according to the lawsuit.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.