Scandal — Families File Lawsuit Against Harvard Alleging Stolen Body Parts

Florida lawyers have taken legal action against Harvard University and its medical school following revelations by federal investigators that the institution’s morgue played a central role in a widespread operation involving the illicit trade of body parts from donated cadavers.

This lawsuit was officially lodged in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday. The legal action was initiated on behalf of three families whose deceased relatives, all of whom passed away within the past six years, had chosen to donate their bodies to Harvard for medical research.

The individuals who have passed away, identified as Glenn Wilder Sr., Marshall Jolotta, and Joseph Gagne in the formal complaint, may have fallen victim to a sinister nationwide network in which stolen cadaver remains were trafficked. This disturbing revelation is alleged in the lawsuit.

The former manager of the morgue, Cedric Lodge, aged 55, was dismissed from his position at Harvard in May amidst the federal inquiry. Cedric Lodge and his wife Denise Lodge, aged 63, were among those indicted earlier this month in a U.S. District Court, facing charges of conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen goods.

Federal investigators have traced the operation to transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars, involving various human body parts. This trade took place over several years, originating from Harvard Medical School’s morgue as well as a mortuary in Arkansas.

The lawsuit accuses Lodge of exploiting his authority to grant customers access to the morgue, enabling them to select and purchase body parts such as bones, skin, dissected heads, and brains. Subsequently, Lodge and his wife are alleged to have prepared and shipped these remains from their residence in Goffstown, New Hampshire, according to the indictment.

Legal representatives from the law firm Morgan & Morgan in Orlando have filed this lawsuit. They assert their commitment to ensuring accountability for this egregious offense. The lawsuit asserts that the families of the deceased placed their trust in the institution when they decided to donate their bodies, expecting that the remains would be treated with the utmost respect and utilized for medical education and research. However, these families now find themselves reliving the trauma of loss and uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones’ remains.

The litigation is being led by attorneys John Morgan and Kathryn Barnett from Morgan & Morgan, along with Ryan Lang and Garrett Lee.

Efforts to reach family members whose loved ones are mentioned in the lawsuit have not yet been successful, according to USA TODAY.

When approached for comment, a spokesperson from Harvard Medical School declined to respond, citing institutional policy in relation to ongoing legal proceedings. Nonetheless, leaders of the medical school have previously asserted that they believe Lodge acted independently, without any involvement from within the institution.

George Daley, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and Edward Hundert, the dean for Medical Education, issued a joint statement expressing their shock and disappointment over the incident. They explained that they have been cooperating with federal authorities and scrutinizing their records to identify any affected donors.

The lawsuit claims that Harvard has breached its responsibility to safeguard the remains entrusted to it, deeming the scandal an unimaginable betrayal of trust from an institution that prides itself on excellence. The legal action accuses Harvard of negligence in its policies and procedures related to the protection of donated cadavers, as well as the screening and hiring of staff members, including Lodge, who was employed in 1995.

The lawsuit paints a grim picture, alleging that Harvard “abandoned” the remains in a facility that became a site of “grotesque desecration,” where criminals could pick over the remains of loved ones as if they were trinkets at a flea market.

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