Tag: case management

Bioethics Blogs

Jahi McMath – Case Management Conference

The next case management conference conference in Jahi McMath medical malpractice case is April 3, 2017.

All parties have filed CMC statements.  Some indicate party discovery may occur this summer.  But that will likely be affected by the de…

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Jahi McMath – Assess Whether She Is Alive in April 2017

This week, one of the medical defendants in Jahi McMath’s medical malpractice action filed a case management statement.  


It states that an IME (Independent Medical Exam) will be completed by 04/30/17.  This means that the defendants (jointly or individually) plan to have one or more retained independent medical experts physically examine Jahi in New Jersey.


While the purpose of this IME may be to assess the liability issues (i.e. did defendants commit malpractice), it seems that the primary purpose of the IME will be to assess damages.  Specifically, is Jahi McMath now alive or dead?  The answer to that question can change the value of the medical malpractice case by many millions of dollars.


However, the IME may not go forward in April 2017.  The plaintiffs have renewed their motion to bifurcate the trial and discovery.  They argue that it will be more efficient to first litigate the liability issues.  Stage one: have a jury determine whether the defendants were negligent and whether that negligence caused Jahi brain injury.


Only if the jury makes such a finding on liability, will it be necessary to move to stage two: is Jahi now alive and what is the appropriate amount of compensation.  This is the far more complicated question, so it seems efficient to sequence the trial to avoid having to answer this if possible.


The hearing on the motion to bifurcate is on April 27, 2017 in Alameda County Superior Court Dept. 16.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Supreme Court of California Allows Jahi McMath Case to Proceed

The defendants in Jahi McMath’s state medical malpractice  lawsuit have tried again and again (unsuccessfully) to resolve the life/death issue at the pleadings stage.

The trial court twice rejected their motions.  In July, the Court of Appeal affirmed.  The defendants then petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.  At the end of August, the court denied the petition (No. S236072).

Now the case may proceed before the trial court.  The parties just filed case management statements estimating a trial between 20 and 45 days long.

The trial will likely be bifurcated.  That way, the life/death issue (which is relevant to the amount of damages) only gets tried if liability is first established.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Jahi McMath – Update on Lawsuits 6 and 7

I have posted a number of recent filings in both the state damages case and in the federal constitutional case brought by Jahi McMath’s mother.  

These new filings raise a number of issues and a number of arguments on each issue.  The following eight points offer a basic summary.

  1. The state case has been reassigned to a new judge.
  2. The defendants plan to appeal the state trial court’s denial of their demurrers.
  3. The defendants have opposed the family’s motion to bifurcate  the state damages case.  They argue that the liability issue is far more complicated than the life/death issue.  So, it makes no sense to litigate the time-consuming issue before the simple issue.  Defendants also argue that the life/death issue must be determined first, since otherwise Jahi has no “standing” to bring a liability case.  Finally, they argue that the sequence proposed by the family (liability then damages) would be prejudicial.
  4. Defendant Rosen has served discovery requests on the family that seek documents and interrogatory responses on the life/death issue.
  5. Defendant Rosen has moved to intervene in the federal case.  He argues that a finding of life there could “exponentially” increase his exposure to damages in the state case. If Jahi is alive, then future medical expenses could exceed $5 million.  If she is dead, damages would likely be under $500,000 unless McMath proves malice justifying punitive damages.
  6. Defendant Rosen has also moved to dismiss the federal case on much the same grounds as his demurrer to the state case.
  7. Three new physician defendants have been served.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Jahi McMath – Demurrer to the 1st Amended Complaint – Jan. 8, 2016

As I blogged earlier, on October 20, 2015, the Alameda County Superior Court permitted the family of Jahi McMath to amend their complaint against Children’s Hospital Oakland and Dr. Rosen.  The purpose of the amendment was to more fully allege how Jahi is now alive (and thus entitled to litigate some of the asserted claims).  

On November 4, 2015, the family filed that amended complaint.  Yesterday, the defendants filed a demurrer to the amended complaint.  The demurrer is over 500 pages long and I am now getting a copy.  But it presumably again challenges the sufficiency of the allegations regarding Jahi’s status as alive.  A hearing on this demurrer is set for January 8, 2016 at 11:00 am.

Today, the defendants also filed a case management statement indicating that they will take the deposition of plaintiffs next Monday.

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.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Beyond the “Silver Tsunami”: Toward an Ethic for Aging Societies

I spent last week in Singapore, where an excellent breakfast of noodles and teah o ais limau (Malaysian-style iced tea with lemon) costs about $2 and is served at an open-air hawker center in under 10 seconds. Observing this Singaporean balance of efficiency, quality, and cost, made possible by the unstinting hard work of the hawkers and also by a system that plans and regulates these complexes of food stalls throughout the city, was good daily preparation for a week of discussions about the social values of this aging society as they are translated into policies and practices benefiting aging, chronically ill, and dying people and their families.

Singapore is the fastest-aging society in the world. Being ranked number one is usually a matter of local pride, but in this case, it means that this highly developed city-state of 5.5 million is ahead of other nations in grappling with the reality that if your society is aging, it includes a lot of people facing dementia. Our team, led by Singaporean bioethics scholar Jacqueline Chin, has begun these discussions with local physicians, nurses, social workers, program administrators, and policy-makers as background for the second edition of the Singapore Casebook, which will focus on the ethics of care transitions in aging societies.

Some of the definitions and questions we began to tackle are familiar across aging societies. For example, the common metaphor of population-level aging as the “silver tsunami” is problematic. By suggesting that the oldest old, as their health deteriorates, become a natural disaster, the metaphor presents older people as a threat to society rather than members of society.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Jahi McMath Family Still Denies She Is Dead

In ongoing medical malpractice litigation over the treatment of Jahi McMath, the healthcare defendants have inferred (from the complaint) that the McMath family contends she is still alive

In their Case Management Statement filed a few days ago, the family confirmed that they are making this contention.  In providing a statement of the case, they write:


“Jahi finally coded and her heart stopped.  Defendants contend she was pronounced clinically brain dead.  Plaintiffs contend Jahi suffered severe brain damage but does not currently meet the definition of clinical brain death.”


Can this question be re-litigated?  If so, can plaintiffs actually prove what they contend?  If so, this would be the first case EVER in which a patient CORRECTLY diagnosed as dead is no longer dead.  


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.

Bioethics Blogs

What Do We Owe to Child Migrants?

From October 1, 2013, through June 15, 2014, more than 52,000 child migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, overwhelming the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Obama administration has declared this an “urgent humanitarian situation” and has authorized DHS to establish a Unified Coordinating Group led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide for the children’s humanitarian needs. While the recent upsurge, and the myths circulating among migrants that there is a window of opportunity for children seeking asylum (or for women with young children), have caught the attention of policy-makers and the media, a May 2014 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) concludes that this pattern of “mixed” migration, which includes children fleeing violent home countries, in addition to more typical economic migrants, began in 2009.

What do we owe these children?  What is an appropriate ethical and legal framework for exploring and articulating our obligations, both in terms of immediate humanitarian aid and beyond? A recent New York Times editorial captured these questions and identified the problem with the arguments that the United States owes nothing beyond swift deportation:

What is America’s responsibility to those beyond our borders who are dislocated by poverty and violence? (None? If so, then what do we do when they show up at the border anyway? And do we want to treat trafficked children the same as drug smugglers and other criminals?)

There are several recognized frameworks for understanding what this nation (or any nation) owes, in terms of health-related rights or services, to children who show up at the border and how these obligations relate to undocumented children already living in this country.

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.