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2012 Florida Statutes

Chapter 406
MEDICAL EXAMINERS; DISPOSITION OF DEAD BODIES
CHAPTER 406
CHAPTER 406
MEDICAL EXAMINERS; DISPOSITION OF DEAD BODIES
MEDICAL EXAMINERS
(ss. 406.01-406.17)
DISPOSITION OF DEAD BODIES
(ss. 406.50-406.61)
MEDICAL EXAMINERS
406.01 Short title.
406.02 Medical Examiners Commission; membership; terms; duties; staff.
406.03 Organization and meetings of commission.
406.04 Rules.
406.05 Medical examiner districts.
406.06 District medical examiners; associates; suspension of medical examiners.
406.075 Grounds for discipline; disciplinary proceedings.
406.08 Payment of fees, salaries, and expenses; transportation costs; facilities.
406.09 Expert witness fees.
406.11 Examinations, investigations, and autopsies.
406.12 Duty to report; prohibited acts.
406.13 Examiner’s report; maintenance of records.
406.135 Autopsies; confidentiality of photographs and video and audio recordings; exemption.
406.136 A photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person.
406.14 Duty of law enforcement officers.
406.145 Unidentified persons; reporting requirements.
406.15 Designation of substitute in absence of official examiner.
406.16 Professional liability insurance.
406.17 Application and construction.
406.01 Short title.This chapter shall be known as the “Medical Examiners Act.”
History.s. 1, ch. 70-232.
406.02 Medical Examiners Commission; membership; terms; duties; staff.
(1) There is created the Medical Examiners Commission within the Department of Law Enforcement. The commission shall consist of nine persons appointed or selected as follows:
(a) The Governor shall appoint:
1. Two members who are physicians licensed pursuant to chapter 458 or chapter 459 and who are active district medical examiners;
2. One member who is a funeral director licensed pursuant to chapter 497;
3. One member who is a state attorney;
4. One member who is a public defender;
5. One member who is a sheriff; and
6. One member who is a county commissioner.
(b) One member shall be the Attorney General or her or his designated representative.
(c) One member shall be the State Surgeon General or her or his designated representative.
(2) The term of office of the physicians appointed to the commission shall be 4 years. The term of office of the state attorney, public defender, sheriff, and county commissioner each shall be 4 years unless she or he leaves that office sooner, in which case her or his appointment will terminate. The term of office of the funeral director shall be 4 years. Upon the expiration of the present terms of office, the Governor shall appoint two members for terms of 4 years, two members for terms of 3 years, two members for terms of 2 years, and one member for a term of 1 year. An appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired portion of the term.
(3) Members of the commission shall not receive any compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for travel and expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in s. 112.061.
(4) The Medical Examiners Commission shall:
(a) Initiate cooperative policies with any agency of the state or political subdivision thereof.
(b) Remove or suspend district medical examiners pursuant to this act and have the authority to investigate violations of this act.
(c) Oversee the distribution of state funds for the medical examiner districts and may make such agreements and contracts, subject to approval of the executive director of the Department of Law Enforcement, as may be necessary to effect the provisions of this chapter.
(5) All staffing and budgetary decisions involving the commission shall be subject to the approval of the executive director of the department.
(6) The Department of Law Enforcement shall employ staff for the commission pursuant to subsection (5).
History.s. 2, ch. 70-232; s. 1, ch. 70-439; s. 1, ch. 72-392; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 4, ch. 78-323; s. 15, ch. 79-8; ss. 1, 5, 6, 7, ch. 81-89; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; s. 2, ch. 83-265; s. 16, ch. 86-220; ss. 1, 7, 8, ch. 87-359; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 25, ch. 97-103; s. 174, ch. 99-8; s. 140, ch. 2004-301; s. 55, ch. 2008-6; s. 113, ch. 2010-102.
406.03 Organization and meetings of commission.The commission shall annually select a chair from among its own membership and shall meet at least four times each year and on the call of the chair.
History.s. 3, ch. 70-232; s. 4, ch. 78-323; ss. 6, 7, ch. 81-89; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; s. 2, ch. 83-265; ss. 7, 8, ch. 87-359; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 26, ch. 97-103.
406.04 Rules.The commission shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this chapter. The commission shall ensure minimum and uniform standards of excellence, performance of duties, and maintenance of records so as to provide useful and adequate information to the state in regard to causative factors of those deaths investigated.
History.s. 3, ch. 70-232; s. 4, ch. 78-323; ss. 6, 7, ch. 81-89; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; s. 2, ch. 83-265; ss. 7, 8, ch. 87-359; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 110, ch. 98-200.
406.05 Medical examiner districts.The Medical Examiners Commission shall establish medical examiner districts within the state, taking into consideration population, judicial circuits of the state, geographical size of the area of coverage, availability of trained personnel, death rate by both natural and unnatural causes, and similar related factors. No county may be divided in the creation of a district. However, this limitation shall not prohibit cooperative arrangements among the several districts.
History.s. 3, ch. 70-232; s. 2, ch. 72-392; s. 4, ch. 78-323; ss. 6, 7, ch. 81-89; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; s. 2, ch. 83-265; ss. 7, 8, ch. 87-359; s. 5, ch. 91-429.
406.06 District medical examiners; associates; suspension of medical examiners.
(1)(a) A district medical examiner shall be appointed by the Governor for each medical examiner district from nominees who are practicing physicians in pathology, whose nominations are submitted to the Governor by the Medical Examiners Commission. The term of office of each district medical examiner shall be 3 years. An appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired portion of the term.
(b) A physician member of the Medical Examiners Commission shall be eligible to serve as a district medical examiner upon approval by the Governor.
(2) The district medical examiner may appoint as many physicians as associate medical examiners as may be necessary to provide service at all times and all places within the district. Associate medical examiners shall serve at the pleasure of the district medical examiner. The district medical examiner shall file an affidavit with the supervisor of elections in the county in which she or he resides assuring that associate medical examiners have no conflicting financial interests or clients represented before agencies pursuant to s. 112.3145.
(3) District medical examiners and associate medical examiners shall be entitled to compensation and such reasonable salary and fees as are established by the board of county commissioners in the respective districts.
(4) District medical examiners and associate medical examiners may engage in the private practice of medicine or surgery, if licensed pursuant to chapter 458 or chapter 459, insofar as such private practice does not interfere with their duties as prescribed herein.
(5) District medical examiners and associate medical examiners are public officers for purposes of s. 112.313 and the standards of conduct prescribed thereunder.
(6) The Governor may suspend a medical examiner for violation of s. 406.11(2)(b).
(7) The Medical Examiners Commission may temporarily suspend a medical examiner who is unable to carry out the duties of a medical examiner by reason of the use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material. The commission shall reinstate the medical examiner if the medical examiner shows the commission that he or she is under appropriate treatment or in an appropriate program addressing the use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material and is again capable of carrying out the duties of a medical examiner.
History.ss. 4, 5, ch. 70-232; s. 3, ch. 72-392; s. 2, ch. 81-89; s. 68, ch. 83-218; s. 2, ch. 87-359; s. 2, ch. 90-169; s. 27, ch. 97-103; s. 1, ch. 98-253.
406.075 Grounds for discipline; disciplinary proceedings.
(1) A medical examiner may be reprimanded, placed on a period of probation, removed, or suspended by the Medical Examiners Commission for any of the following:
(a) Failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter or with the rules of the commission.
(b) Misuse or misappropriation of public funds or property.
(c) Being convicted or found guilty, regardless of adjudication, of a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the duties of the district medical examiner or the ability to perform the duties of the medical examiner.
(d) Disciplinary action against him or her by any state board licensing him or her as a physician.
(e) Having a financial interest in any funeral or direct disposal establishment or transportation service which does business, directly or indirectly, with the office of the district medical examiner.
(f) A material misrepresentation of his or her education, training, experience, or expertise while in his or her capacity as a medical examiner.
(g) A material misrepresentation of data upon which an opinion or conclusion as a medical examiner is based.
(h) Violation of s. 406.11(2)(b).
(i) Negligence or the failure to perform the duties required of a medical examiner with that level of care or skill which is recognized by reasonably prudent medical examiners as being acceptable under similar conditions and circumstances.
(2) The commission shall cause to be investigated any complaint which is filed before it if the complaint is in writing, signed by the complainant, and legally sufficient. A complaint is legally sufficient if it contains ultimate facts which show a violation of this chapter or of any rule promulgated by the commission. The commission may investigate and take action on a complaint even though the complainant withdraws the complaint. The commission may investigate a complaint from a confidential informant if the complaint is substantial, if the alleged violation is substantial, if the complaint is legally sufficient, and if the commission has reason to believe, after inquiry, that the allegations are true. When an investigation of any district medical examiner or associate medical examiner is commenced, the commission shall notify the person against whom the complaint was made of the substance of the investigation, unless the commission chair agrees in writing that such notification would be detrimental to the investigation. The commission may conduct an investigation without notification to any person if the act under investigation is a criminal offense. The commission chair shall direct the commission staff to perform an expeditious investigation into the facts of the case, with the assistance of the Department of Law Enforcement, if needed. The staff report shall contain investigative findings and recommendations as to probable cause.
(3)(a) The commission chair shall appoint a probable cause panel of three members from among the commission membership, one of whom shall be a medical examiner. The probable cause panel may request staff to perform additional investigations as it sees fit.
1. The determination as to whether or not probable cause exists shall be made by a majority vote of the probable cause panel within 30 working days of its receipt of staff investigative findings and recommendations. The commission chair may grant 30-day extensions of the 30 working day time limit.
2. All proceedings and findings of the probable cause panel are exempt from the provisions of s. 286.011 until probable cause has been found or until the subject of the investigation waives confidentiality. The complaint, all investigative findings, and the recommendations of the probable cause panel are exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) until 10 days after probable cause has been found or until the subject of the investigation waives confidentiality. The commission may provide such information at any time to any law enforcement agency or to any regulatory agency.
(b) If the probable cause panel finds that probable cause exists, it shall direct the commission to file a formal complaint against the subject of the investigation. The commission shall file a formal complaint pursuant to the provisions of chapter 120. The probable cause panel may also direct the commission to suspend a district medical examiner from office immediately, under the provisions of s. 120.60(6), if a danger to public health, safety, or welfare so requires.
(c) A formal hearing before an administrative law judge from the Division of Administrative Hearings of the Department of Management Services shall be held pursuant to chapter 120 unless all parties agree in writing that there is no disputed issue of material fact. The administrative law judge shall issue a recommended order pursuant to chapter 120. If any party raises an issue of disputed fact during an informal hearing, the hearing shall be terminated and a formal hearing pursuant to chapter 120 shall be held.
(d) The commission, with those members of the probable cause panel who reviewed the case being excused from voting, shall determine and issue the final order in each disciplinary case, and such order shall constitute final agency action. Any consent order or agreed settlement shall be subject to the approval of the commission.
(e) The commission shall periodically notify the person who filed the complaint of the status of the investigation, whether probable cause has been found, and the status of any civil action or administrative proceeding or appeal.
(4) A privilege against civil liability is hereby granted to any complainant or any witness with regard to information furnished during any investigation or proceeding pursuant to this section, unless the complainant or witness acted in bad faith or with malice in providing such information.
History.s. 3, ch. 87-359; s. 2, ch. 88-303; s. 9, ch. 90-344; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 128, ch. 92-279; s. 55, ch. 92-326; s. 246, ch. 96-406; s. 189, ch. 96-410; s. 1015, ch. 97-103; s. 2, ch. 98-253.
406.08 Payment of fees, salaries, and expenses; transportation costs; facilities.
(1) Fees, salaries, and expenses may be paid from the general funds or any other funds under the control of the board of county commissioners. The district medical examiner shall submit an annual budget to the board of county commissioners.
(2) In the event that an examination or autopsy is performed by the district medical examiner or his or her associate upon a body when the death occurred outside the district, the governmental body requesting the examination or autopsy shall pay the fee for such services.
(3) When a body is transported to the district medical examiner or his or her associate, transportation costs, if any, shall be borne by the county in which the death occurred. Nothing within this chapter shall preclude payment for services to the district medical examiner by the state, either in part or on a matching basis.
(4) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if an examination, investigation, or autopsy is performed by the district medical examiner or his or her associate upon the body of a person who died while in the custody of a facility or institution operated by a state agency, that state agency shall pay for such services and for any costs of transporting the body to the district medical examiner.
(5) Autopsy and laboratory facilities utilized by the district medical examiner or his or her associates may be provided on a permanent or contractual basis by the counties within the district.
History.s. 5, ch. 70-232; s. 144, ch. 77-104; s. 3, ch. 81-89; s. 1, ch. 85-268; s. 4, ch. 87-359; s. 28, ch. 97-103.
406.09 Expert witness fees.District medical examiners or associate medical examiners shall be entitled to expert witness fees as provided by law.
History.s. 5, ch. 70-232; s. 4, ch. 81-89.
406.11 Examinations, investigations, and autopsies.
(1) In any of the following circumstances involving the death of a human being, the medical examiner of the district in which the death occurred or the body was found shall determine the cause of death and shall, for that purpose, make or have performed such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he or she shall deem necessary or as shall be requested by the state attorney:
(a) When any person dies in the state:
1. Of criminal violence.
2. By accident.
3. By suicide.
4. Suddenly, when in apparent good health.
5. Unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner.
6. In any prison or penal institution.
7. In police custody.
8. In any suspicious or unusual circumstance.
9. By criminal abortion.
10. By poison.
11. By disease constituting a threat to public health.
12. By disease, injury, or toxic agent resulting from employment.
(b) When a dead body is brought into the state without proper medical certification.
(c) When a body is to be cremated, dissected, or buried at sea.
(2)(a) The district medical examiner shall have the authority in any case coming under subsection (1) to perform, or have performed, whatever autopsies or laboratory examinations he or she deems necessary and in the public interest to determine the identification of or cause or manner of death of the deceased or to obtain evidence necessary for forensic examination.
(b) The Medical Examiners Commission shall adopt rules, pursuant to chapter 120, providing for the notification of the next of kin that an investigation by the medical examiner’s office is being conducted. A medical examiner may not retain or furnish any body part of the deceased for research or any other purpose which is not in conjunction with a determination of the identification of or cause or manner of death of the deceased or the presence of disease or which is not otherwise authorized by this chapter, part V of chapter 765, or chapter 873, without notification of and approval by the next of kin.
(3) The Medical Examiners Commission may adopt rules incorporating by reference parameters or guidelines of practice or standards of conduct relating to examinations, investigations, or autopsies performed by medical examiners.
History.s. 6, ch. 70-232; s. 26, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch. 87-166; s. 29, ch. 97-103; s. 3, ch. 98-253; s. 48, ch. 2006-1.
406.12 Duty to report; prohibited acts.It is the duty of any person in the district where a death occurs, including all municipalities and unincorporated and federal areas, who becomes aware of the death of any person occurring under the circumstances described in s. 406.11 to report such death and circumstances forthwith to the district medical examiner. Any person who knowingly fails or refuses to report such death and circumstances, who refuses to make available prior medical or other information pertinent to the death investigation, or who, without an order from the office of the district medical examiner, willfully touches, removes, or disturbs the body, clothing, or any article upon or near the body, with the intent to alter the evidence or circumstances surrounding the death, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 7, ch. 70-232; s. 353, ch. 71-136.
406.13 Examiner’s report; maintenance of records.Upon receipt of such notification pursuant to s. 406.12, the district medical examiner or her or his associate shall examine or otherwise take charge of the dead body and shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency pursuant to s. 406.145. When the cause of death has been established within reasonable medical certainty by the district medical examiner or her or his associate, she or he shall so report or make available to the state attorney, in writing, her or his determination as to the cause of said death. Duplicate copies of records and the detailed findings of autopsy and laboratory investigations shall be maintained by the district medical examiner. Any evidence or specimen coming into the possession of said medical examiner in connection with any investigation or autopsy may be retained by the medical examiner or be delivered to one of the law enforcement officers assigned to the investigation of the death.
History.ss. 7, 8, ch. 70-232; s. 26, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 86-234; s. 30, ch. 97-103.
406.135 Autopsies; confidentiality of photographs and video and audio recordings; exemption.
(1) For the purpose of this section, the term “medical examiner” means any district medical examiner, associate medical examiner, or substitute medical examiner acting pursuant to this chapter, as well as any employee, deputy, or agent of a medical examiner or any other person who may obtain possession of a photograph or audio or video recording of an autopsy in the course of assisting a medical examiner in the performance of his or her official duties.
(2) A photograph or video or audio recording of an autopsy held by a medical examiner is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, except that a surviving spouse may view and copy a photograph or video recording or listen to or copy an audio recording of the deceased spouse’s autopsy. If there is no surviving spouse, then the surviving parents shall have access to such records. If there is no surviving spouse or parent, then an adult child shall have access to such records.
(3)(a) The deceased’s surviving relative, with whom authority rests to obtain such records, may designate in writing an agent to obtain such records.
(b) A local governmental entity, or a state or federal agency, in furtherance of its official duties, pursuant to a written request, may view or copy a photograph or video recording or may listen to or copy an audio recording of an autopsy, and unless otherwise required in the performance of their duties, the identity of the deceased shall remain confidential and exempt.
(c) The custodian of the record, or his or her designee, may not permit any other person, except an agent designated in writing by the deceased’s surviving relative with whom authority rests to obtain such records, to view or copy such photograph or video recording or listen to or copy an audio recording without a court order.
(4)(a) The court, upon a showing of good cause, may issue an order authorizing any person to view or copy a photograph or video recording of an autopsy or to listen to or copy an audio recording of an autopsy and may prescribe any restrictions or stipulations that the court deems appropriate.
(b) In determining good cause, the court shall consider whether such disclosure is necessary for the public evaluation of governmental performance; the seriousness of the intrusion into the family’s right to privacy and whether such disclosure is the least intrusive means available; and the availability of similar information in other public records, regardless of form.
(c) In all cases, the viewing, copying, listening to or other handling of a photograph or video or audio recording of an autopsy must be under the direct supervision of the custodian of the record or his or her designee.
(5) A surviving spouse shall be given reasonable notice of a petition filed with the court to view or copy a photograph or video recording of an autopsy or a petition to listen to or copy an audio recording, a copy of such petition, and reasonable notice of the opportunity to be present and heard at any hearing on the matter. If there is no surviving spouse, then such notice must be given to the parents of the deceased, and if the deceased has no living parent, then to the adult children of the deceased.
(6)(a) Any custodian of a photograph or video or audio recording of an autopsy who willfully and knowingly violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(b) Any person who willfully and knowingly violates a court order issued pursuant to this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(7) A criminal or administrative proceeding is exempt from this section, but unless otherwise exempted, is subject to all other provisions of chapter 119, provided however that this section does not prohibit a court in a criminal or administrative proceeding upon good cause shown from restricting or otherwise controlling the disclosure of an autopsy, crime scene, or similar photograph or video or audio recordings in the manner prescribed herein.
(8) This exemption shall be given retroactive application.
History.s. 1, ch. 2001-1; s. 1, ch. 2003-184; s. 1, ch. 2006-263.
406.136 A photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person.
(1) As used in this section, the term “killing of a person” means all acts or events that cause or otherwise relate to the death of any human being, including any related acts or events immediately preceding or subsequent to the acts or events that were the proximate cause of death.
(2) A photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, except that a surviving spouse of the decedent may view and copy any such photograph or video recording or listen to or copy any such audio recording. If there is no surviving spouse, then the surviving parents shall have access to such records. If there is no surviving spouse or parent, then an adult child shall have access to such records.
(3)(a) The deceased’s surviving relative, with whom authority rests to obtain such records, may designate in writing an agent to obtain such records.
(b) A local governmental entity, or a state or federal agency, in furtherance of its official duties, pursuant to a written request, may view or copy a photograph or video recording or may listen to or copy an audio recording of the killing of a person and, unless otherwise required in the performance of their duties, the identity of the deceased shall remain confidential and exempt.
(c) The custodian of the record, or his or her designee, may not permit any other person to view or copy such photograph or video recording or listen to or copy such audio recording without a court order.
(4)(a) The court, upon a showing of good cause, may issue an order authorizing any person to view or copy a photograph or video recording that depicts or records the killing of a person or to listen to or copy an audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person and may prescribe any restrictions or stipulations that the court deems appropriate.
(b) In determining good cause, the court shall consider:
1. Whether such disclosure is necessary for the public evaluation of governmental performance;
2. The seriousness of the intrusion into the family’s right to privacy and whether such disclosure is the least intrusive means available; and
3. The availability of similar information in other public records, regardless of form.
(c) In all cases, the viewing, copying, listening to, or other handling of a photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person must be under the direct supervision of the custodian of the record or his or her designee.
(5) A surviving spouse shall be given reasonable notice of a petition filed with the court to view or copy a photograph or video recording that depicts or records the killing of a person or to listen to or copy any such audio recording, a copy of such petition, and reasonable notice of the opportunity to be present and heard at any hearing on the matter. If there is no surviving spouse, then such notice must be given to the parents of the deceased and, if the deceased has no living parent, then to the adult children of the deceased.
(6)(a) Any custodian of a photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person who willfully and knowingly violates this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(b) Any person who willfully and knowingly violates a court order issued pursuant to this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(c) A criminal or administrative proceeding is exempt from this section but, unless otherwise exempted, is subject to all other provisions of chapter 119, provided however that this section does not prohibit a court in a criminal or administrative proceeding upon good cause shown from restricting or otherwise controlling the disclosure of a killing, crime scene, or similar photograph or video or audio recordings in the manner prescribed herein.
(7) This exemption shall be given retroactive application and shall apply to all photographs or video or audio recordings that depict or record the killing of a person, regardless of whether the killing of the person occurred before, on, or after July 1, 2011. However, nothing herein is intended to, nor may be construed to, overturn or abrogate or alter any existing orders duly entered into by any court of this state, as of the effective date of this act, which restrict or limit access to any photographs or video or audio recordings that depict or record the killing of a person.
(8) This section only applies to such photographs and video and audio recordings held by an agency as defined in s. 119.011.
(9) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2016, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
History.s. 1, ch. 2011-115.
406.14 Duty of law enforcement officers.Any evidence material to the determination of the cause of death in possession of the law enforcement officers assigned to the investigation of the death shall be made available to the medical examiner. It is the duty of the law enforcement officer assigned to and investigating the death to immediately establish and maintain liaison with the medical examiner during the investigation into the cause of death.
History.s. 8, ch. 70-232.
406.145 Unidentified persons; reporting requirements.When an unidentified body is transported to a district medical examiner pursuant to this chapter, the medical examiner shall immediately report receipt of such body to the appropriate law enforcement agency, provided such law enforcement agency was not responsible for transportation of the body to the medical examiner. If the medical examiner cannot determine the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction, he or she shall notify the sheriff of the county in which the medical examiner is located, who shall determine the law enforcement agency responsible for the identification. It is the duty of the law enforcement officer assigned to and investigating the death to immediately establish the identity of the body. If the body is not immediately identified, the law enforcement agency responsible for investigating the death shall complete an Unidentified Person Report and enter the data, through the Florida Crime Information Center, into the Unidentified Person File of the National Crime Information Center. An Unidentified Person Report is that form identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for use by law enforcement agencies in compiling information for entrance into the Unidentified Person File.
History.s. 2, ch. 86-234; s. 31, ch. 97-103.
406.15 Designation of substitute in absence of official examiner.In the absence of the district medical examiner or associate medical examiner, the state attorney of the county may appoint a competent physician to act in their stead.
History.s. 9, ch. 70-232; s. 26, ch. 73-334.
406.16 Professional liability insurance.The district medical examiners and associate medical examiners shall obtain professional liability insurance in an amount to be determined by the board of county commissioners of the county or counties served. The fees for such insurance shall be paid from funds appropriated by the board of county commissioners of such county or counties. No county shall be liable for any acts of a medical examiner not within the scope of his or her official duties.
History.s. 10, ch. 70-232; s. 32, ch. 97-103.
406.17 Application and construction.This chapter supersedes all parts of statutes, general law, and special acts, with which it may be in conflict. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to repeal or amend s. 925.09 or to affect the right of prosecutors to investigate and determine causes of death which, in their opinion, may have been criminally caused. In home rule counties which have established medical examiners under provisions of a home rule charter or a code or ordinance enacted pursuant to the charter, the medical examiner shall also serve as the district medical examiner who would otherwise be appointed under this chapter.
History.s. 11, ch. 70-232; s. 1, ch. 81-233; s. 5, ch. 87-359.
DISPOSITION OF DEAD BODIES
406.50 Unclaimed dead bodies or human remains; disposition, procedure.
406.51 Disposition of unclaimed deceased veterans; contract requirements.
406.52 Retention of bodies before use; unfit or excess number of bodies, disposition procedure.
406.53 Death of indigents; notice; delivery to the anatomical board when unclaimed; exceptions; assessment of fees.
406.54 Bodies may be claimed after delivery to anatomical board.
406.55 Contracts for delivery of body after death prohibited.
406.56 Acceptance of bodies under will.
406.57 Distribution of dead bodies.
406.58 Fees; authority to accept additional funds; annual audit.
406.59 Institutions receiving bodies.
406.60 Disposition of bodies after use.
406.61 Selling, buying, or conveying bodies outside state prohibited; exceptions, penalty.
406.50 Unclaimed dead bodies or human remains; disposition, procedure.All public officers, agents, or employees of every county, city, village, town, or municipality and every person in charge of any prison, morgue, hospital, funeral parlor, or mortuary and all other persons coming into possession, charge, or control of any dead human body or remains which are unclaimed or which are required to be buried or cremated at public expense are hereby required to notify, immediately, the anatomical board, whenever any such body, bodies, or remains come into its possession, charge, or control. Notification of the anatomical board is not required if the death was caused by crushing injury, the deceased had a contagious disease, an autopsy was required to determine cause of death, the body was in a state of severe decomposition, or a family member objects to use of the body for medical education and research.
(1) The person or entity in charge or control of the dead body or human remains shall make a reasonable effort to determine:
(a) The identity of the deceased person and shall further make a reasonable effort to contact any relatives of such deceased person.
(b) Whether or not the deceased person is entitled to burial in a national cemetery as a veteran of the armed forces and, if so, shall make arrangements for such burial services in accordance with the provisions of 38 C.F.R. For purposes of this subsection, “a reasonable effort” includes contacting the county veterans service office or regional office of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
(2) Such dead human bodies as described in this chapter shall be delivered to the anatomical board as soon as possible after death.
(3) Nothing herein shall affect the right of a medical examiner to hold such dead body or remains for the purpose of investigating the cause of death, nor shall this chapter affect the right of any court of competent jurisdiction to enter an order affecting the disposition of such body or remains.
(4) In the event more than one legally authorized person claims a body for interment, the requests shall be prioritized in accordance with s. 732.103.

For purposes of this chapter, the term “anatomical board” means the anatomical board of this state located at the University of Florida Health Science Center, and the term “unclaimed” means a dead body or human remains that is not claimed by a legally authorized person, as defined in s. 497.005, for interment at that person’s expense.

History.s. 6, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 22, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 91-168; s. 1, ch. 96-251; s. 1, ch. 2002-204; s. 141, ch. 2004-301.
Note.Former s. 245.06.
406.51 Disposition of unclaimed deceased veterans; contract requirements.Any contract by a local governmental entity for the disposal of unclaimed human remains must provide for compliance with s. 406.50(1) and require that the procedures in 38 C.F.R., relating to disposition of unclaimed deceased veterans, be followed.
History.s. 2, ch. 2002-204; s. 43, ch. 2003-1.
406.52 Retention of bodies before use; unfit or excess number of bodies, disposition procedure.All bodies received by the anatomical board shall be retained in receiving vaults for a period of not less than 48 hours before allowing their use for medical science; if at any time more bodies are made available to the anatomical board than can be used for medical science under its jurisdiction, or if a body shall be deemed by the anatomical board to be unfit for anatomical purposes, the anatomical board may notify, in writing, the county commissioners or other legally authorized person, as defined in s. 497.005, in the county where such person died, to cause it to be buried or cremated in accordance with the rules, laws and practices for disposing of such unclaimed bodies. However, prior to having any body buried or cremated, the county shall make a reasonable effort to determine the identity of the body and shall further make a reasonable effort to contact any relatives of the deceased person. If a relative of the deceased person is contacted and expresses a preference for either burial or cremation, the county shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate the request of the relative. For purposes of this section, the county commissioners of the county where such person died shall be considered a legally authorized person as defined in s. 497.005. A person licensed under chapter 497 shall not be liable for any damages resulting from cremating or burying such body at the direction of the county’s legally authorized person.
History.s. 8, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 72-40; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 2, ch. 91-168; s. 2, ch. 96-251; s. 12, ch. 98-268; s. 142, ch. 2004-301.
Note.Former s. 245.07.
406.53 Death of indigents; notice; delivery to the anatomical board when unclaimed; exceptions; assessment of fees.
(1) Notice of death to the anatomical board in cases of indigent persons is not required if:
(a) Death was caused by crushing injury.
(b) The deceased had a contagious disease.
(c) An autopsy was required to determine cause of death.
(d) The body was in a state of severe decomposition.
(e) Any relative, by blood or marriage, claims the body for burial at the expense of such relative, but the body shall be surrendered to the claimant for interment, but if such relative is indigent, in a manner consistent with the policy of the agency in possession or control of the body.
(f) Any friend or any representative of a fraternal society of which the deceased was a member, or a representative of any charitable or religious organization, or a governmental agency which was providing residential care to the indigent person at the time of his or her death claims the body for burial at his or her, its, or their expense.
(g) The deceased person was an honorably discharged member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the state who served during a period of wartime service as defined in s. 1.01(14); but such body shall be buried in accordance with the provisions of the existing laws.
(2) When the Department of Health claims the body of a client according to this section, the department shall assess fees for burial pursuant to s. 402.33.
(3) For purposes of this chapter, the term indigent shall be 100 percent of the federal poverty level recognized by the Federal Income Guidelines produced by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
History.s. 7, ch. 28163, 1953; s. 1, ch. 67-564; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 81-40; s. 10, ch. 84-114; s. 12, ch. 95-143; s. 88, ch. 95-148; s. 3, ch. 96-251; s. 44, ch. 99-8; s. 143, ch. 2004-301.
Note.Former s. 245.08.
406.54 Bodies may be claimed after delivery to anatomical board.Any dead human body which has been delivered to the anatomical board may be claimed by any friend or any representative of a fraternal society of which the deceased was a member, or a representative of any charitable or religious organization. Upon receipt of such claim, the body or remains shall be surrendered to the claimant by the anatomical board after the payment to the anatomical board for the expenses incurred in obtaining and handling such body or remains.
History.s. 8, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 2, ch. 72-40; s. 4, ch. 96-251.
Note.Former s. 245.09.
406.55 Contracts for delivery of body after death prohibited.The anatomical board is specifically prohibited from entering into any contract, oral or written, whereby any sum of money shall be paid to any living person in exchange for which the body of said person shall be delivered to the anatomical board when such living person dies.
History.s. 9, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 5, ch. 96-251.
Note.Former s. 245.10.
406.56 Acceptance of bodies under will.If any person being of sound mind shall execute a will leaving his or her body to the anatomical board for the advancement of medical science and such person dies within the geographical limits of the state, the anatomical board is hereby empowered to accept and receive such body.
History.s. 10, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 6, ch. 96-251.
Note.Former s. 245.11.
406.57 Distribution of dead bodies.The anatomical board or its duly authorized agent shall take and receive the bodies delivered to it under the provisions of this chapter and shall distribute them equitably to and among the medical and dental schools, teaching hospitals, medical institutions, and health-related teaching programs that require cadaveric material for study; or the same may be loaned for examination or study purposes to recognized associations of licensed embalmers or funeral directors, or medical or dental examining boards at the discretion of the anatomical board.
History.s. 11, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 7, ch. 96-251.
Note.Former s. 245.12.
406.58 Fees; authority to accept additional funds; annual audit.
(1) The anatomical board is empowered to prescribe a schedule of fees to be collected from the institution or association to which the bodies, as described in this chapter, are distributed or loaned to defray the costs of obtaining and preparing such bodies.
(2) The anatomical board is hereby empowered to receive money from public or private sources in addition to the fees collected from the institution or association to which the bodies are distributed to be used to defray the costs of embalming, handling, shipping, storage, cremation, and other costs relating to the obtaining and use of such bodies as described in this chapter; the anatomical board is empowered to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by any person delivering the bodies as described in this chapter to the anatomical board and is further empowered to enter into contracts and perform such other acts as are necessary to the proper performance of its duties; a complete record of all fees and other financial transactions of said anatomical board shall be kept and audited annually by the Department of Financial Services, and a report of such audit shall be made annually to the University of Florida.
History.ss. 12, 15, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 12, 15, 19, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 79-12; s. 8, ch. 96-251; s. 433, ch. 2003-261.
Note.Former s. 245.13.
406.59 Institutions receiving bodies.No university, school, college, teaching hospital, institution, or association shall be allowed or permitted to receive any such body or bodies as described in this chapter until its facilities have been inspected and approved by the anatomical board. All such bodies received by such university, school, college, teaching hospital, institution, or association shall be used for no other purpose than the promotion of medical science.
History.s. 13, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 11, 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 72-40; s. 9, ch. 96-251.
Note.Former s. 245.14.
406.60 Disposition of bodies after use.At any time when any body or bodies or part or parts of any body or bodies, as described in this chapter, shall have been used and deemed of no further value to medical or dental science, then the person or persons having charge of said body or parts of said body may dispose of the remains by cremation.
History.s. 14, ch. 28163, 1953.
Note.Former s. 245.15.
406.61 Selling, buying, or conveying bodies outside state prohibited; exceptions, penalty.
(1) Any person who sells or buys any body or parts of bodies as described in this chapter or any person except a recognized Florida medical or dental school who transmits or conveys or causes to be transmitted or conveyed such body or parts of bodies to any place outside this state commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 775.083. However, this chapter does not prohibit the anatomical board from transporting human specimens outside the state for educational or scientific purposes or prohibit the transport of bodies, parts of bodies, or tissue specimens in furtherance of lawful examination, investigation, or autopsy conducted pursuant to s. 406.11. Any person, institution, or organization that conveys bodies or parts of bodies into or out of the state for medical education or research purposes shall notify the anatomical board of such intent and receive approval from the board.
(2) Any entity accredited by the American Association of Museums may convey plastinated bodies or parts of bodies into or out of the state for exhibition and public educational purposes without the consent of the board if the accredited entity:
(a) Notifies the board of the conveyance and the duration and location of the exhibition at least 30 days before the intended conveyance.
(b) Submits to the board a description of the bodies or parts of bodies and the name and address of the company providing the bodies or parts of bodies.
(c) Submits to the board documentation that each body was donated by the decedent or his or her next of kin for purposes of plastination and public exhibition, or, in lieu of such documentation, an affidavit stating that each body was donated directly by the decedent or his or her next of kin for such purposes to the company providing the body and that such company has a donation form on file for the body.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2)(c) and in lieu of the documentation or affidavit required under paragraph (2)(c), for a plastinated body that, before July 1, 2009, was exhibited in this state by any entity accredited by the American Association of Museums, such an accredited entity may submit an affidavit to the board stating that the body was legally acquired and that the company providing the body has acquisition documentation on file for the body. This subsection expires January 1, 2012.
History.s. 16, ch. 28163, 1953; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 144, ch. 71-136; s. 4, ch. 72-40; s. 3, ch. 91-168; s. 1, ch. 93-3; s. 10, ch. 96-251; s. 1, ch. 2009-128.
Note.Former s. 245.16.