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Thursday, September 25, 2008 - Page updated at 12:05 PM

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Wash. high court allows brain-harvesting lawsuit

The family of a man whose brain was harvested when he died can pursue a lawsuit against King County as well as the institute that received the organ.

AP Legal Affairs Writer

SEATTLE —

The family of a man whose brain was harvested when he died can pursue a lawsuit against King County as well as the institute that received the organ.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a lower court judge was wrong to dismiss all claims brought by the family of Jesse Smith, who died of heart problems shortly after his 21st birthday.

Smith was an organ donor, and his family consented to providing brain tissue to the nonprofit Stanley Medical Research Institute of Maryland. Instead of just providing a tissue sample, however, the King County Medical Examiner's office provided the entire brain; Smith's mother says that caused her grief and depression, and she sued in 2006.

The high court says she can pursue claims of wrongful interference with a dead body and conspiracy.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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