Harvard Escapes Stolen Body Lawsuits

A court in Massachusetts has rejected family members’ legal claims that held Harvard University and some of its employees partially liable for the alleged theft and sale of human remains by a former medical school morgue manager.

Following the former morgue employee’s federal charges in June, a class action lawsuit was subsequently filed. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs’ families claimed that Harvard failed to manage their loved ones’ donated cadavers properly. According to Judge Kenneth Salinger, the university administration could not act in good faith regarding the remains, which found insufficient evidence to support that claim.

Cedric Lodge, the morgue manager at Harvard University, faced accusations of selling organs and tissues from donated corpses. Along with others involved in the trade of those bodily parts, he faced multiple criminal accusations related to the alleged crime. The victims’ families had hoped that a lawsuit against Harvard would force the institution to answer for what happened, but a judge rejected all of the cases against Harvard on Monday.

According to Salinger’s determination, Harvard was found not to be negligent in connection with Lodge’s claimed activities. This decision does not affect Harvard’s protection under the state’s Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which protects anybody who sincerely tries to comply with the legislation.

Following his indictment in June of last year, Cedric Lodge was found not guilty of charges related to the alleged stealing and trafficking of human remains from 2018 until the beginning of 2023. A federal grand jury accused Lodge and five others of conspiring to sell the severed bones as part of a business that offered gruesome items.

Those closest to the victims have spoken out against the verdict, expressing their disapproval and expressing their intention to file an appeal.

Kathryn Barnett, representing many families via the legal firm Morgan & Morgan, called the decision a get-out-of-jail-free card and said she would be appealing.

She believes that Salinger made numerous errors and that this decision would put the anatomical gift programs across the country in peril since, under the current system, organizations responsible for handling remains would only face legal consequences if shown to know about specific wrongdoings.