Braverman v. Granger

303 Mich. App. 587 (2014)

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Braverman v. Granger

Michigan Court of Appeals
303 Mich. App. 587 (2014)

Facts

Gwendolyn Rozier died after complications related to a kidney transplant. Gwendolyn’s body began to reject the new kidney. The antirejection treatment, which involved removing a patient’s plasma, was known to affect a patient’s blood in relation to coagulation and clotting. Thus, when Gwendolyn’s body began to reject the new kidney, the antirejection treatment was applied, causing Gwendolyn to need replacement plasma through a blood transfusion. Gwendolyn and her husband, Gregory, were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had discussed with Gwendolyn’s physicians that Gwendolyn was not to receive blood products. Gwendolyn had also signed a document to that effect. For this reason, Gwendolyn’s doctors were not able to continue administering the antirejection treatment because of concerns regarding bleeding and the refusal to accept blood. Gwendolyn’s physicians opted to remove the new kidney to give Gwendolyn the opportunity to live. Although the kidney was successfully removed, Gwendolyn died shortly after the surgery. The personal representative of Gwendolyn’s estate, Eric Braverman (plaintiff), brought a wrongful-death action against transplant surgeon Dr. Darla Granger and various other medical providers (defendants), including St. John Health and St. John Hospital and Medical Center (St. John) (defendants). St. John sought summary judgment, asserting that Braverman was barred from receiving damages by the doctrine of avoidable consequences, which required a plaintiff to act in a manner that mitigated postinjury damages. However, Braverman argued that applying avoidable consequences in Gwendolyn’s case would violate her First Amendment right to freely exercise her religion and permit a jury to inquire into the reasonableness of the faith of a Jehovah’s Witness. The trial judge applied the doctrine of avoidable consequences, utilizing an objective standard, and determined that no damages for Gwendolyn’s death were owed because her death could have been avoided and because rejecting a blood transfusion was objectively unreasonable. The trial court granted summary judgment, and Braverman appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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