Bioethics Blogs

McMath Family Sues Oakland Children’s Hospital; Alleges Jahi is Alive

The case of Jahi McMath is infamous around the world for the remarkable claim that she is no longer dead.  

In December 2013, federal and state courts in California determined that Jahi was legally dead.  While the courts issued temporary restraining orders to preserve the status quo (continued physiological support) pending their rulings on pending motions, both courts ultimately refused to order the hospital or its clinicians to continue administering medical interventions to Jahi.

Since December 2013, the family has twice indicated that it would seek a re-determination of Jahi’s status as dead.  In October 2014, it filed a writ of error corum nobis with the Alameda County Court that heard the case in December 2013.  In 2015, the family indicated that it would ask the California Secretary of State to revoke the death certificate.

This week, the family sued Oakland Children’s Hospital, alleging that the negligence of its clinicians caused Jahi’s injuries.  The family seeks damages for “medical, nursing, and other related expenses in the future.” (Complaint para. 36).  These damages presume that Jahi is alive.  Consequently, it seems that the issue of Jahi’s life/death status must be litigated and adjudicated in this medical malpractice action.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.