Court: Family of Girl Declared Dead Can Try to Prove She's Alive

The latest in the Jahi McMath saga
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2016 1:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – The legal battle over whether Jahi McMath is dead or alive continues. The family of McMath, who never recovered after suffering complications from a 2013 tonsil surgery when she was 13 years old, has sued UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland and the doctor who did the surgery. The hospital and the doctor claimed that since McMath was determined to be brain-dead and was declared legally dead in January 2014, she should be considered a deceased person in the civil trial. But this week, a California appellate court denied those appeals, and said McMath's family—which has never accepted that the girl is dead and has kept her on life support machines—can attempt to prove the teen is still alive, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

It makes a big difference to the McMath family's case: If a court rules McMath is alive, the family can sue for millions; if McMath is dead, all they can sue for is $250,000, the cap on a wrongful death lawsuit. A health law expert says McMath's family will have to present evidence she's still alive, which will likely involve bringing in their own medical experts to examine the girl. (Read more Jahi McMath stories.)

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