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MI Prisoner’s Estate’s Wrongful Death Suit Dismissed Because He Caused His Own Death by Swallowing Illegal Drugs

On an undisclosed date, Michigan resident Terance Graham was arrested for marijuana possession. Just before his arrest he swallowed an ounce of cocaine. Later, at the Washtenaw County Jail, he complained that he was ill but denied ingesting any narcotics. He was taken to a hospital later that night where he died due to a cocaine overdose.

Graham’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, which was dismissed by the trial court because the estate’s lawsuit sought to recover for damages Graham had caused himself by his own illegal activity. The estate appealed.

The Michigan Court of Appeals held that a decedent’s estate can’t recover damages in a wrongful death suit where the decedent died as a result of his own illegal activity. Since Graham possessed and swallowed the cocaine, the appellate court held the district court had properly dismissed the case. See: Carolyn Graham, Pers. Rep. of the Estate of Terance Graham v. Secure Care, Inc., Michigan Court of Appeals, Case No. 262138 (Jan. 18, 2007); 2007 WL 122127.

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Related legal case

Carolyn Graham, Pers. Rep. of the Estate of Terance Graham v. Secure Care, Inc.