On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, a judicial panel ruled that the family of Darden Binakaj, a Muslim man whose body was subjected to an autopsy in violation of his religion after he was killed in a 2008 Bronx car accident, can sue the city. The city argued that it had no “special duty” to inform the victim’s family that his body was at the Medical Examiner’s Office. The appellate judges clearly disagreed, noting that the police failed their own procedures to identify his next of kin.
The family hired Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. to represent them in their suit and seek justice against the city for their wrongful actions.
What Is an Autopsy?
If you have lost a loved one, it is fair for you to ask why or whether an autopsy should be done. The answer to this question raises a number of significant issues, the most important of which is religious.
An autopsy is a detailed physical examination of a person who has died. During this exploration of the anatomy of the deceased individual, experts look, see and evaluate the cause of death. In order to obtain the answers they seek, they open and expose every part of the body and take sample of tissue and fluids to examine under the microscope.
The Religious Aspect of an Autopsy
While an autopsy may be useful for many reasons, especially to determine cause of death, it may not be an option for some religious groups. From a Christian point of view, the practice of allowing autopsies for scientific research is acceptable. According to the prevailing opinions of Jewish scholars, autopsies are allowed and condoned in cases where the resulting information may be of value in saving the life of another individual or for forensic purposes.
The teaching of Islam, however, does not permit for voluntary autopsy because it is considered a desecration of a human who was associated with the body. If the law requires an autopsy, the next of kin may acquiesce to it. In the case of Darden Binakaj, the New York City police department failed to notify the family even when they inquired at the local police precinct the next day. By the time the family found out about Binakaj’s death, an autopsy had already been concluded.
This lack of communication was a clear violation of the law, as well as the religious beliefs of both the deceased victim and his next of kin. Although filing suit against the city will not undo the harm done, it will bring justice for the family.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or harmed in any way as a result of the negligent or careless actions of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our New York personal injury attorneys, please call 1-800-529-9997.