Following this indictment, two proposed class actions and a third claim have been filed against Harvard alleging it was negligent in its supervision of the morgue. To learn more, read my previous blog.
And how could we fail to mention the criminal conduct of a young Dr. Frankenstein, who sent his medical assistant Igor (pronounced Eye-gōre) to purloin the brain of Abbie Normal and used it for his own salacious purposes.
The Harvard case differs from other cases mentioned above due to the class actions being pursued against it. Since only some members of the class received the same injuries or damages, it would be hard to argue for a class so large. A legal question about the class’s rights also arises in this instance because the families agreed to transfer the remains as an anatomical gift to a third party (Harvard). Their right to a say in the disposition of the bodies may be limited or end at the point of the transfer. Though, the answer to this question may lay in the contract between Harvard and the families if it articulates a case for the release of the bodies. The contents of such a contract are unknown to the public at this time.
Harvard, show us the contract!
If Harvard does fight the liability claims, the plaintiffs could seek to add Harvard officials who oversaw the activities of the morgue, where the manager was said to be the only employee. These individuals may make similar arguments to those mentioned above. All this being said, there have been no updates or responses in the case of Harvard aside from its public statement condemning the manager’s actions as an abhorrent betrayal of trust.
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Sloop, Hope. “Mortuary worker in Arkansas is indicted for selling stolen body parts to tattoo-covered Pennsylvania man she met on Facebook for $11K.” Daily Mail. (30 April 2023). https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12031285/Ex-mortuary-worker-Arkansas-indicted-selling-11K-worth-body-parts-Facebook.html
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. Phone: (407) 331-6620; Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Hartley Brooks is a law clerk at The Health Law Firm. She is preparing to attend law school.
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