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Jewish Law
Case Summaries
    -- Autopsy


  1. Lott v. State & Tumminelli v State
      32 Misc 2d 296, 225 NYS2d 434 (1962)

    • Hospital liable for: i) mistagging two deceased, a Catholic and a Jew; (ii)for causing autopsy to be performed on Jew; and (iii) for both to be prepared for the other's burial (e.g., Jew was made up with Rosary beads, etc.)

  2. Sykes v Commercial Travelers Mutual Accident Insurance
      32 F.R.D. 335 (D. Pa. 1963)

    • Trial is allowed to decide the material facts in the case and religious objection insn't enough to deny the defendants request for an autopsy if request was timely and allowable by insurance contract.

  3. Wilsensky v. Greco
      74 Misc2d 512, 344 NYS 2d 77 (1973)

    • Autopsy is enjoined b/c it is unneccesary. It is just to satisfy "curiosity" of coroner as to which of many internal injuries caused death.

  4. Snyder v. Holy Cross Hospital
      30 MdApp. 317, 352 A.2d 334 (1976)

    • 18 year old in good health died suddenly. The state's interest outweighs the fathers request that to perform the post-mortem exam would violate his sincerely held religious beliefs.

  5. Atkins v. Medical Examiner of Westchester County
      418 NYS2d 839, 100 Misc2d 296 (S.Ct. Westchester County 1979)

    • Autopsy could not be performed on Orthodox Jew merely to satisfy professional curiosity.

  6. Kohn v. United States
      591 F. Supp. 568 (E.D.N.Y 1984)

    • US Army liable for distress caused by cremation and embalming of Jewish soldier killed on duty because it could not show need to do so; however, Army not liable for performing autopsy where governmental need outweighs the families beliefs.

  7. Liberman v. Riverside Memorial Chapel
      650 N.Y.S. 2d 194 (1995)

    • Damages awarded when Jewish funeral home caused state to perform autopsy on decedent, an Orthodox Jew despite State Law; PUBLIC HEALTH LAW section 4210 (c) commonly called the "Silver Law" forbids autopsies upon religious objection unless required for "public neccesity"; held, no "public necessity" present.

  8. Stein v. Lebowitz-Pine View Hotel
      111 AD2d 572, 489 N.Y.S. 2d 635 (1985)

    • To avoid autopsy, plaintiff's sister lied to coroner and said deceased had heart condition; widow still entitled to sue hotel for wrongful death.

  9. Montgomery v. County of Clinton, Michigan
      743 F. Supp. 1253 (D. Mich. 1990), aff'd 940 F.2d 661 (6th Cir. 1991)

    • Jewish mother sued over autopsy on son who died violent death; autopsy law religiously neutral; held, state interest outweighed private religious requirements.

  10. Rotholz v. City of New York
      151 Misc. 2d 613, 582 NYS 2d 366 (1992)

    • Hospital liable for autopsy on Jewish deceased.

  11. Schwartz v. State
      162 Misc 2d 313, 616 NYS 2d 921 (1994)

    • Section 4210 (c) of the Public Health Law applies notwithstanding any other state statute and requires a 48 hour delay unless a compelling state interest for public neccesity.

  12. Wolf v. Rose Hill Cemetary Assoc.
      914 P2d 468 ( 1995)

    • Woman has right to disinter remains of father and sister from Orthodox Jewish cemetary and to reinter at a family plot in another cemetary.

  13. Harris-Cunningham v. Medical Examiner of New York County
      690 N.Y.S.2d 253 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999). Dated May 20, 1999. Memorandum opinion.

    • Where person in apparent health died suddenly, the medical examiner (M.E.) was entitled to perform autopsy without seeking the consent of a surviving family member or friend; there had been no prior objection by family or friend and the M.E. had no reason to believe that an autopsy would be contrary to decedent's religious beliefs; New York law.

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