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Judge dismisses families’ lawsuits against Harvard over morgue scandal


Families who sued Harvard University after loved ones’ remains were allegedly stolen and sold on the black market have had their cases dismissed.

Paula Peltonovich says she was told her dad, whose body was donated to Harvard Medical School for research, is one of the victims of the morgue scandal.

“To know somebody bought something of my father’s, or multiple things of my father’s,” said Peltonovich. “I want that back.”

Harvard’s morgue manager, Cedric Lodge, is accused of selling body parts from donated cadavers. He’s facing several criminal charges in the case, as are people who trafficked in those body parts.

Families of the victims were hoping a lawsuit filed against Harvard would hold the university accountable. But a ruling from a judge on Monday dismissed all lawsuits against the school.

“How can Harvard just get away with this?” asked Peltonovich. “I just don’t understand.”

Cedric Lodge leaves federal court in Boston, on June 14, 2023.NBC Boston

In the decision to dismiss the civil case against the school, the judge said Harvard is immune because it acted in good faith, and it’s not liable for the alleged misconduct of its employee.

“Harvard gets basically a ‘get out of jail free” card,” said attorney Kathryn Barnett of the law firm Morgan & Morgan. “No responsibility for what happened in its morgue with the remains entrusted to it.”

Barnett is one of the attorneys representing the families.

She says Harvard turned a blind eye to what was happening in the morgue, and she says she’s profoundly disappointed in the judge’s ruling.

“To be a ruling that gives every school out there carte blanche to let criminals run wild in their morgue, and so long as you don’t look, you’re scot-free,” said Barnett.

Attorneys for the families say they will appeal the judge’s decision.



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