Court appoints attorney to represent Fort Worth girl declared brain dead

A judge appointed an attorney to represent the interests of the 9-year old girl at the center of a life support dispute in Fort Worth.

Doctors from Cook Children's Medical Center recently declared Payton Summons brain dead. Her family took legal action to prevent her removal from life support.

Attorneys for the parents of the 9-year-old were back in court on Friday. They want her to say on life support. Her family still has hope she can recover.

There was a different face at a court hearing to decide how long Payton will remain on life support. Attorney David Cook was appointed by the judge to represent the 9-year-old girl.

“The court believes it’s in the best interest of Payton Summons that we have an independent third party to represent her interest,” said Justin Moore, attorney for Payton’s mother. “Of course, we would like Payton’s best interest to be represented by her mom and dad.”

Tiffany Hofstetter, Payton’s mother, was in court but didn’t comment afterwards. On Monday, Moore got a 14-day restraining order to prevent Cook Children’s from taking her off life support.

Doctors say Payton has a tumor near her heart and suffered cardiac arrest. An initial test showed no brain activity.

“She has more time to live. This is what we have. It’s why we came here today to extend her life,” Moore said. “And that’s what we did essentially.”

The family wants time to move Payton to a facility that will keep her on life support. Attorneys for the hospital and Payton’s mother spent the day in a conference. They reached an impasse.

“We sat down with opposing counsel. We tried to work out an agreement,” Moore said. “We couldn’t really get anything down on paper.”

The hospital and the family have looked at several facilities that might take Payton. The family says they have a couple of options.

“There are some preconditions that we have to work out with the hospitals, but it’s just something that we got to sit down at the table and have a discussion about,” Moore said. “As or right now, everything is still on the table.”

Time is running out. It’s what Friday’s hearing was all about and will be continued next week.

“We still have hope,” Moore said. “We still got faith.”

Attorneys will try again next Wednesday to arrive at an agreement or will go ahead with a court hearing on how to proceed with the restraining order.