Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In re T.A.C.P. case brief

In re T.A.C.P. case brief summary
609 So.2d 588 (1992)

Appellant parents sought review of order affirming and certifying determination that legal death did not exist so long as a child's brain stem continued to function under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 382.009(1) (West 1991), in appellees' favor, in the District Court of Appeal, Fourth District (Florida).


Appellant parents sought review of determination that legal death of their anencephalic newborn did not exist for purposes of organ donation under Fla. Stat. § 382.009(1) (1991). Appellant mother carried the child to term on the advice of physicians and with the intention of donating the newborn's organs. Appellants' healthcare providers refused to declare the newborn dead for the donation purpose out of fear of incurring civil and criminal liability. 

  • The court noted the newborn met the criteria of having a large skull opening accompanied by near or complete absence of cerebral hemispheres. 
  • The court explained that the issue of first impression had to be resolved in finding anencephaly did not constitute legal death in Florida when the cardiopulmonary definition of death was accepted as a matter of common law whenever one was not artificially maintained under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 382.009 (1991). 
  • The court found no public necessity or fundamental right sufficiently existed to warrant the creation of an additional legal death standard applicable to anencephalics. 
  • The court noted no consensus on utility of anencephalic transplants and resulting legal and ethical issues existed.

The court affirmed the lower court's determination, in appellees' favor, and decided the certified issue in favor of finding appellant parents' anencephalic child was not legally dead for purposes of organ transplant donation because cardiopulmonary function still existed and no public policy or fundamental right sufficient to warrant the creation of a death standard applicable to anencephalics existed.

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