Washington Supreme Court Decision in Emotional Distress Case

The Washington Supreme Court this week overruled a trial court’s summary judgment against the family of a man whose brain was harvested for mental-health research when he died can pursue a lawsuit against the county medical examiner, and the Stanley Medical Research Institute of Maryland.

The case involves a man who tragically died heart problems in 2003 shortly after his 21st birthday. Obviously a young man who cared about other people, he was an organ donor. His parents consented to provide brain tissue to the nonprofit. Instead of taking a small tissue sample, however, the King County Medical Examiner’s office – presumably by accident – provided the young man’s entire brain.

The injury to the family is the emotional distress the taking of the brain caused them. I could not possibly feel more for this family. There is nothing worse than burying your child. But I do not support this lawsuit.