An Arizona jury began deliberating whether to award up to $13.2 million each to plaintiffs who say the bodies of their deceased loved ones were mishandled and disrespected by a now-closed Phoenix company.
Plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Burg said the civil case against Biological Resource Center owner Stephen Gore is the first of its kind and will send a message to the body donation industry about what happens if they mislead and deceive donors. He estimated the nationwide industry is worth $1 billion.
Arizona is a regulatory-free zone for the body-parts industry. At least four body donation companies are operating in Arizona, in addition to a nonprofit cryonics company that freezes people after they die with the intent of one day bringing them back to life.
The 21 plaintiffs in the civil action, which was filed in 2015, say the remains of their family members were obtained through "false statements," that body parts were being sold for profit, and that they were not stored, treated or disposed of with dignity or respect.