NRL News

Jahi McMath Lawsuit Percolates Under the Surface

by | Jul 28, 2015


Jahi McMath and mom

Jahi McMath and mom

The law professor and bioethicist, Thaddeus Mason Pope, and I disagree about most issues. But I have to say, he sure keeps up on legal affairs of mutual concern.

Through his Medical Futility Blog and Twitter feed–as far as I know, it hasn’t been reported in the papers–I discovered that there is a hearing on July 30, in the medical malpractice suit filed against Children’s Hospital and the surgeon in the Jahi McMath case, to determine whether the case can go forward.

One of the primary issues in the case concerns whether Jahi is still alive, or dead because an earlier court ruling found that she was and a death certificate was issued.

I agreed initially, but concluded that the case should be reopened based on written declarations by respectable physicians that she is not brain dead. At the very least, there should be another thorough examination of Jahi since her body has not deteriorated, which happens in almost all brain death cases.

Children’s Hospital and the doctor are fighting this. And for a good pecuniary reason: If her terrible injury was caused by malpractice, the damages will be much higher if she lives than if she is dead. Of course, that is a sword that cuts both ways.

In any event, the medical malpractice case will go forward as a wrongful death case if her “death” can’t be overturned, of that I have no doubt (having no opinion on the outcome). More when I know more.

A huge HT to Thaddeus Pope for keeping abreast! This could be a very important case. Because if Jahi isn’t dead, it will make history.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog at

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