ST. LOUIS (CN) - Barnes-Jewish Hospital doctors used a couple's stillborn infant as a specimen without permission and/or lost the body, the couple claims in court.
Greg Harrell and Melissa Hanson sued Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Washington University School of Medicine and five doctors, in City Court.
Hanson gave birth to a stillborn son, Roark Harrell, on July 18, 2012 the couple say in the complaint. They say they told hospital officials they wanted to bury their son, and made arrangements for photos of him to be taken before his body was sent to the funeral home.
However, "Roark Harrell was treated as a specimen and a complete fetopsy was performed," the complaint states.
"On or about July 20, 2012, Midlawn Funeral Home went to defendant BJH to pick up the body of Roark Harrell.
"Upon arrival, Midlawn Funeral Home was told that the body was not ready to be released.
"Midlawn Funeral Home was then told by defendant BJH they were unable to locate the body of Roark Harrell.
"Defendant BJH then presented what they told Midlawn Funeral Home was the body of Roark Harrell.
"The indistinguishable body of Roark Harrell was given to Midlawn Funeral Home be defendant BJH in a white plastic bucket. See attached Exhibit B.
"Midlawn Funeral Home had never seen a body given to them in this condition.
"On the evening of July 20, 2012, defendant BJH's employee verified with Midlawn Funeral Home the contents of the bucket was the body of Roark Harrell but it looked like that because it was treated as a specimen.
"Plaintiffs had a funeral and burial for what they thought was their baby Roark Harrell.
"Plaintiffs have learned what they buried was not the body of their baby Roark Harrell."
The plaintiffs seek actual and punitive damages for interference with the right of sepulcher and burial. They are represented by Andrea McNairy with Brown & Crouppen.
It's been a rough year for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which has been sued 16 times since January, according to the Courthouse News database.
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