STOCKTON, Calif. (CN) – A family says the California Transplant Donor Network pressured them into donating the organs of a recently deceased relative, then mutilated the body so badly they could not have a viewing at the funeral.
After George Eisenbeis died on Apr. 30, 2011, the California Transplant Donor Network repeatedly contacted his family “for the purpose of inducing and/or coercing plaintiffs to donate all, or portions of, Mr. Eisenbeis’ remains,” according to the complaint in San Joaquin Superior Court.
Though the family agreed to “a limited donation of portions of Mr. Eisenbeis’ remains,” they claim to have insisted that the company restore the remains “with dignity and respect so that the family could have a viewing at the funeral.”
“Prior to, subsequent to and including May 1, 2011, defendants and each of them were negligent and careless and otherwise wrongful in and about the custody, care and restoration of the body of plaintiffs’ decedent,” the lawsuit states.
The family claims to have “relied on the assurances of the defendants that Mr. Eisenbeis’ body would be restored in order to allow plaintiffs to have an appropriate and dignified funeral service.”
The California Transplant Donor Network assumed a duty to them to “treat plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ decedent in a dignified and respectful manner,” the family says.
Instead, the transplant network “intentionally, and with reckless disregard of the probability of causing plaintiffs emotional distress, engaged in outrageous conduct which the defendants knew or should have known would cause severe mental anguish and emotional distress to the vulnerable, bereaved plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
They claim that the transplant mill’s actions violated California’s health and safety codes, resulting in the mutilation of Mr. Eisenbeis’ corpse. Though the family admits to giving their consent for “a limited recovery,” they says they never consented to any procedure that would conflict with their intent to have the body viewed at the funeral.
“The promises, representations and suggestions made by the defendants were known to be false when made,” according to the complaint. “The representations and suggestions made by the defendants, and each of them, were made for the purposes of inducing plaintiffs to allow defendants to obtain full or partial harvesting and/or recovery from decedent’s remains. Such promises were important to the transaction, insofar as plaintiffs relied upon such promises and representations when consenting to limited harvesting and/or recovery from decedent’s remains conditioned on viewing.”
The donor network “did not perform the promised acts or reveal their intention not to perform as promised,” the family added.
The family seeks punitive damages for mutilation of a corpse, medical battery, fraud, willful misconduct, negligence, breach of contract and emotional distress.
They are represented by Stewart Tabak and Norah Lamond, both of their own firms in Stockton, Calif.