Burg Simpson’s trial team recently secured $58.5 million in compensatory & punitive damages—one of the largest civil jury trial awards in Arizona history—for 11 families who had donated bodies of their deceased loved ones to a non-transplant tissue bank that turned out to be trafficking in the sale of bodies and body running a body broker business called the Biological Resource Center.
The Biological Resource Center, which claimed to be a legitimate body donation center where the deceased could have their bodies donated to medical advancement, was raided by the FBI in 2014 for selling donated bodies against their wishes. The descendants and families of the deceased were induced by the BRC to donate the bodies of their loved ones based on misrepresentations that the remains would be used solely for medical or scientific research. The company claimed that the remains would be treated with dignity and respect, and would not be dismembered or sold, but instead, they engaged in an illegal enterprise of collecting, harvesting, and trafficking whole human bodies and selling body parts for profit.
After the bodies were donated, they were unceremoniously dismembered, improperly stored, and the severed parts sold by body brokers to buyers all over the world. And all this occurred without the consent of donor or the donor’s family members. Following a 4 week trial, the jury sent a loud and clear message to body brokers across the nation that failing to treat donated bodies with dignity and respect, and selling off body parts for profit without full informed consent from the donors will not be tolerated in our society.
What we are most proud of is our clients’ willingness to stand up to the body brokers and to shed a light on a nationwide problem that was little known before our case. While live organ donation and transplant is highly regulated, in most states, whole body donation after death in most states is not regulated at all. Because of the courage of our clients and the dedication and hard work of the Burg Simpson team, this has now begun to change, so that no grieving family members need to go through this again.
At Burg Simpson we fight for the right reasons. For justice to prevail, sometimes a bright light needs to shine to expose the wrongs that are committed in the shadows against the most vulnerable among us. Burg Simpson, Good Lawyers Changing Lives isn’t just our motto, it’s who we are.