Court holds family has no property interest in mother's brain after autopsy; case dismissed but sanctions not allowed
Karen Waeschle sued the Oakland County Medical Examiner, arguing that he violated her family's civil rights by incinerating Waeschle's mother's brain after an autopsy. She argued that the family had a property right in the brain which must be recognized as a fundamental right under law. The Federal Court deferred to the Michigan Supreme Court for a decison on whether the State considers a family to have the fundamental right to a return of all bodily tissue after autopsy. The Michigan Supreme Court held that no such fundamental right is recognized in Michigan law, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals approved the dismissal of Waeschle's claim on that basis. Because the issue of whether Waeschle's family was exercising a fundamental property right was a novel one of public interest, the Court denied the Medical Examiner's request for sanctions.