Jul 31, 2007
County Coroner owes no duty to family to preserve a dead body in any particular condition

Perryman v. County of Los Angeles (2007) 2007 Lexis 1263 (California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Two) [published]. Plaintiffs sued the County for negligence in handling the corpse of their deceased family member. They contended that the corpse was not properly refrigerated before the family picked it up and that as a result they received an unaesthetic corpse. The Court of Appeal held that a County Coroner has no duty to family members of a deceased person to take affirmative steps to preserve the body in any particular condition. The court expressly rejected a Ninth Circuit opinion that purported to find a duty in California for a coroner to obtain permission from the family before removing corneas from the dead.