Right to Mom’s Brain|’At Best Equivocal’

(CN) – A Michigan coroner did not violate a woman’s due process by incinerating her mother’s brain as medical waste, the 6th Circuit ruled.

     After Karen Waeschle’s mother died, Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic performed an autopsy.
     When Waeschle received her mother’s remains for cremation, she was not informed that the brain had been removed for further examination. It was later incinerated.
     Waeschle sued Dragovic, claiming that her due process rights were violated because she did not have the opportunity to dispose of her mother’s brain.
     The district court rejected Dragovic’s motion for summary judgment; medical examiner claimed qualified immunity.
     Judge Gilman of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court reversed, and granted Dragovic summary judgment.
     “Waeschle’s purported constitutional right is not clearly established. Michigan law regarding the rights of the next of kin in their relatives’ body parts removed for forensic examination during an autopsy is at best equivocal,” Gilman wrote.
     “Not a single case instructed Dragovic to treat the brain in any manner other than the way he did,” the judge said.

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