Torts – Unauthorized Autopsy – Non-Survival of Action
Plaintiff’s husband was struck and killed by a motorbus owned and operated by defendant municipality. The body was removed to a hospital maintained by defendant. Subsequently, at the request and direction of a physician employed by defendant, an autopsy was performed, apparently to determine whether the deceased had been drinking. During the examination certain organs were removed and destroyed. Plaintiff brought an action for damages on the ground that the mutilation was done without her consent and in violation of her legal right to the possession of the body. Plaintiff died while the action was pending, and her administrator continued the suit. Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict was denied, and judgment and verdict were for plaintiff. On appeal, held, reversed, with direction to set aside and dismiss. While there is a cause of action in the surviving spouse for unauthorized mutilation of her husband’s body, it was error to deny defendant’s motion because such right did not survive the death of plaintiff. Deeg v. City of Detroit, 345 Mich. 371, 76 N.W. (2d) 16 (1956).