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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Family Not Entitled|to Post-Autopsy Brain

(CN) - Family members do not have the right to the brain of their deceased kin after an autopsy, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled.

The justices were asked by a federal judge to answer the following certified question about a class action against Oakland County and its medical examiner:

"Assuming that a decedent's brain has been removed by a medical examiner to conduct a lawful investigation into the decedent's cause of death, do the decedent's next-of-kin have a right under Michigan law to possess the brain in order to properly bury or cremate the same after the brain is no longer needed for forensic examination?"

In a per-curiam decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that state law does not give the family the right to the brain.

"Further, plaintiff has not disputed defendants' assertions that there was an historical practice of retaining, examining, and later disposing of an examined brain when [the law] was enacted in 1953, and that medical examiners promulgated rules to permit this practice," the justices wrote.

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