BOSTON (AP) — Lawsuits filed by families against Harvard University over the theft and sale of loved ones’ remains have been dismissed by a judge, leaving the families seeking justice in their fight against the prestigious institution.
The families alleged that their deceased relatives’ body parts were stolen from Harvard Medical School’s morgue and sold on the black market. One of the victims, Paula Peltonovich, expressed her distress, saying, “To know somebody bought something of my father’s, or multiple things of my father’s, I want that back.”
The case revolved around the question of whether Massachusetts law holds Harvard liable for the actions of its employee. Harvard’s morgue manager, Cedric Lodge, is currently facing criminal charges related to the sale of body parts. However, the judge ruled that Harvard is immune from liability because the university acted in good faith and cannot be held accountable for the alleged misconduct of one of its employees.
The ruling has left the families frustrated and disappointed. Attorney Kathryn Barnett, who represents the families, criticized the judge’s decision, stating, “Harvard gets basically a ‘get out of jail free’ card. No responsibility for what happened in its morgue with the remains entrusted to it.”
Barnett further accused Harvard of turning a blind eye to the illegal activities taking place in its morgue. She argued that the university failed to exercise proper oversight and called for clearer systems for specimen tracking, the installation of surveillance cameras, and better staff training within the medical school’s morgue.
A panel of experts hired by Harvard has made recommendations for improvements in morgue operations, including the implementation of the suggested measures. However, the families’ attorney argued that this report fails to address the underlying issue of how such a scandal was able to occur at a respected institution.
The families, determined to seek justice for their loved ones, have announced their intention to appeal the judge’s decision. They believe that Harvard should be held accountable for the theft and sale of their relatives’ remains, emphasizing the need for greater transparency and accountability in the handling of donated cadavers.
The outcome of this lawsuit against Harvard University highlights the challenges faced by families seeking redress in cases involving the mishandling of donated remains. As they continue their legal battle, the families hope to bring about systemic changes to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.