Firm News

Jury Awards a $58.5 Million Verdict in the “Body Parts Case”

By Heidi Culbertson

November 19, 2019  

Jury Awards a $58.5 Million Verdict in the “Body Parts Case”:

10 of 21 plaintiffs who sued a now-shuttered body donation company were awarded $58.5 million by an Arizona jury.

Burg Simpson shareholders Michael S. BurgDavid K. TeSelleHolly B. Kammerer, and their team of lawyers and legal professionals, recently brought justice for their clients when a Maricopa County Superior Court jury found in favor of these plaintiffs and awarded them $58.5 million.

This case involved a black market industry that profits by selling and trafficking in human body parts. Burg Simpson filed a claim against the owners of the Biological Resource Center (BRC) for mishandling remains of donated bodies and the companies who were accused of buying body parts from them.

The plaintiffs in the civil action, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in 2015, stated that the remains of their family members were obtained through “false statements,” – obtained under the guise that their loved one’s bodies would be treated with dignity and respect and only be placed with medical and scientific research facilities, but in many cases were instead chopped up and the body  parts sold to body brokers for profit from a price list.  In some cases, bodies were used for ballistics testing and as crash test dummies.  The FBI investigation which first exposed the nationwide wrong-doing originated from the finding of several severed heads being shipped to the middle east on a commercial airline.

“The evidence at trial proved that Gore was running a body broker “chop shop”, where he’d deceive families into donating their loved ones upon death for medical and scientific research, but instead chopped the bodies up and sold the parts to other body brokers for profit,” said Michael Burg, founder of Burg Simpson, and a lead trial lawyers for the Plaintiffs.

“Today, this 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,” said David TeSelle, a Shareholder at Burg Simpson, and one of the lead trial lawyers for the Plaintiffs.

“We are very pleased that this jury ‘stood up to the bully’ and said this conduct will not be tolerated in a civil society,” said Holly Kammerer, a Shareholder of Burg Simpson, and one of the lead trial lawyers for the Plaintiffs.

“What people don’t realize is that the illicit body broker trade is something going on right now across the nation.  Unlike organ transplant donation, which is heavily regulated, there is very little regulation or oversight – and in most states, none at all –  into body donation at death, to ensure that the donors and their families’ wishes are being met. Whole-body donation, when done right and by businesses who follow the rules, is a valuable and wonderful thing. But when done wrong, when it’s the product of deceit and greed, we as a society need to stand up and fight back.  We are extremely grateful that this jury took a stand and said no more.” said David TeSelle, a Shareholder of Burg Simpson, and one of the lead trial lawyers for the Plaintiffs.

“This is what we do. We give a voice to those that otherwise would have to suffer in silence,” said Michael Burg, founder of Burg Simpson, “we fight for what is right and just no matter what it takes. It was these brave, wonderful clients who said they needed to make a statement. It wasn’t about the money. It was never about the money. They just didn’t want it to happen to anyone else. Any other family, ever again. And we never gave up. We never ever give up.”

Read more here.

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