Bioethics Blogs

Next 6 Steps in the Jahi McMath Case

As I blogged this weekend, (also here) the Jahi McMath family has filed an amended complaint in its medical malpractice action against Oakland Children’s Hospital and one of its physicians.  For present purposes, I focus on only one part of the amended complaint:  the set of allegations that Jahi is now alive.

In the context of this lawsuit, whether Jahi is alive is relevant only to the value of the case.  (Outside the context of this lawsuit, the implications are mammoth, if not monstrous.)  The family’s legal theory with the highest potential dollar value (perhaps $5 million to $8 million) requires that she is alive.  This claim prays for past and future medical expenses.  But such expenses are not recoverable unless Jahi is alive (and has been since December 2013).  After all, corpses do not have any legitimate medical expenses.

Here are the next six steps:

1.  The medical defendants moved to dismiss this claim before.  They may move to dismiss it again.  That motion is due by November 23.  

2.  But it seems that, if true, the allegations in the amended complaint (responding to commands) are sufficient to establish Jahi is alive.  Therefore, any such motion will probably be denied.  The case will proceed past the initial pleadings.  

3.  A case management conference is scheduled for December 11.  

4.  The defendants will be entitled to take formal discovery from the plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs have alleged that Jahi is alive.  The defendants can:  (a) ask for medical records, (b) make the family answer interrogatories, (c) take the deposition of the family’s medical expert(s), and (d) hire an expert to personally examine Jahi. 

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.