|US District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller|
On Friday, the US District Court for the
Eastern District of California issued a clearly written and cogent decision in
Fonseca v. Kaiser, upholding the California Uniform Determination of Death Act.
The court "recognized the unease
with which some regard brain death."
But, on balance, the court found that "a professional doubt
surrounding brain death as death, legally or medically, represents a minority position."
Three times, Israel Stinson was
diagnosed as dead. Consequently, Kaiser
clinicians want to stop physiological support.
Various court orders have already delayed them for nearly a month. But time is now running out.
The court found that the family's claims
lacked sufficient merit to grant a preliminary injunction. The court stayed its decision for a
week. And the family will probably get
another few weeks as they appeal to (and probably ultimately lose before) the
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The court determined that the family's
constitutional substantive and procedural due process claims were unlikely to
succeed. The CUDDA is a rational law
supported by lots of valid policy objectives.
Moreover, such claims are not properly stated against Kaiser and its
physician in any case, since they are not "state actors."
The court also determined that the sole
statutory claim (that could be asserted against Kaiser) lacked merit, since
EMTALA does not apply to inpatients.