Lawsuit Filed by Families Affected by the Harvard Morgue Theft Scandal

June 20, 2023

On Wednesday, Harvard’s former morgue manager faced accusations and was put on trial for allegedly stealing, dismembering, and trading body parts of cadavers. Consequently, the affected families have filed a lawsuit in response to these illicit activities.

On Friday, the son of a woman who had consented for her body to be donated to Harvard Medical School’s research purposes initiated a class-action lawsuit. The intent of the lawsuit is to provide justice for all families whose deceased relatives’ bodies were allegedly mishandled by the school’s ex-morgue manager.

The Suffolk Superior Court in Boston is currently handling a lawsuit that might include up to 400 cadaver donors’ families. It’s being claimed that negligence, breach of duty, and emotional distress have been inflicted upon them.

In her final months, Adele Mazzone made arrangements for donating her body to the medical school for research following her passing in February 2019, as confirmed by the lawsuit. In April 2021, John Bozek was able to return his mother’s ashes to his family from Tewksbury, Massachusetts. However, he believes her body was among those desecrated at the morgue.

The Plaintiff brings forth this lawsuit to represent himself and also all the other individuals who have given their family members’ bodies for medical research and academic study to Harvard. The lawsuit claims that the morgue manager of Harvard Medical School mishandled, dissected, and sold the cadavers without consent.

When asked about it, a Harvard spokesperson declined to comment on the suit.

Losing a family member or dear one can be a difficult and painful experience. However, the concept of their body being used for a meaningful scientific purpose can offer their loved ones some comfort. Jeff Catalano from Keches Law Group said in a statement that this is often the case.

The Harvard institution had an obligation to take proper care of the bodies donated by families who trusted them with their deceased relatives. This is something they, unfortunately, failed to do, according to him.

He affirmed that Harvard Medical School and other medical institutions have an obligation to properly manage donated human remains with due respect. Moreover, they must use the remains for their intended purpose of scientific study.

On Friday, the deans of the school George Daley and Edward Hundert condemned the theft of body parts in a message posted on the school’s website. They described this act as an “abhorrent betrayal” and labeled it as “morally reprehensible.”

“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others,” the deans wrote in response to this incident. HMS has been betrayed through the reported incidents which have unfortunately jeopardized the individuals who willingly decided to donate their bodies through the Anatomical Gift Program to aid medical field education research.

On May 6th, five individuals including Cedric Lodge, the former morgue manager, were hit with federal charges. It was reported that prior to this, Lodge had been dismissed from his post at Harvard University.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants had connections to a nationwide ring of individuals who purchased and resold stolen human remains from Harvard Medical School and an Arkansas funeral home.

According to criminal records, some of the body parts retrieved by Lodge were sent back to his house in Goffstown, NH. He also mailed some pieces of these remains to prospective customers. The pieces involved included brains, heads, skin, and bones. Reports claim that Lodge enabled customers to access the morgue and pick out body parts they were willing to buy.

No attorney is recorded in the lawsuit against him, with a request for a jury trial and compensation for unspecified damages.

If you or someone close to you has been affected by this, don’t hesitate to reach out to Michael Kelly. Our experienced lawyers can guide and support you in every stage of the process.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.