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Posted on December 3, 2019 at 10:43 AM

Two separate cases in U.S. federal courts challenge the constitutionality of the Uniform Determination of Death Act.


First, we are still waiting for the Ninth Circuit decision in Fonseca v. Smith (No. 17-17153).  The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected the claim of Israel Stinson’s family in September 2016. The court heard oral argument in January 2019, but then ordered a second round of briefing over the summer.


Second, a newer case is being briefed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Lowry v. Beaumont Health (No. 2:19-CV-13293) raise several constitutional arguments. One hurdle for the plaintiff is that constitutional claims do not apply to private hospitals that are not state actors. On the other hand, the hospital may perform a public function, since the UDDA empowers it to declare which individuals are alive and dead. Unlike the California case, the patient (Titus Cromer) is still in the hospital, now 40 days after death.

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