Keller Thoma Wins Dismissal of Labor Union's Lawsuit Challenging School District's "Do Not Resuscitate" Policy

On November 10, 2009, Keller Thoma attorneys secured an important victory on behalf of a Michigan school district against a Union representing the School District’s teachers. The Union filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the School District’s parental “Do Not Resuscitate” (or DNR) policy. Under the Policy, the School District agreed to comply with “parental DNR directives” that met very specific requirements. A parental DNR directive is a request by a student’s parents and the student’s physician that certain unwanted and potentially harmful and invasive resuscitative procedures not be performed on the student in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Staff are required to honor those directives and could face discipline for refusing to comply with a directive.

The Union challenged the legality of the policy and argued that the School District could not require Union members to comply with parental DNR directives or impose discipline upon a union member who refuses to do so.

Keller Thoma moved for dismissal of the Union’s suit, arguing that the DNR policy was valid since under federal and state case law, parents have the constitutional right to refuse certain unwanted medical procedures on behalf of their children. Keller Thoma argued that Union members must comply with a parental DNR directive or face discipline.

A Wayne County Circuit Court judge agreed with Keller Thoma and dismissed the Union’s case, finding that the School District’s parental DNR policy was valid. This issue has not been widely addressed by courts in the United States, and it is believed that this is the first time a court in Michigan has been asked to rule on this issue.