Jurors rule in body donation lawsuit

The owner of a body donation facility in Phoenix will have to pay $58 million to 10 of 21 plaintiffs in a lawsuit

PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The owner of a body donation facility in Phoenix will have to pay $58 million to 10 of 21 plaintiffs in a lawsuit, for mishandling remains of donated bodies. 

[WATCH: Man has mixed feelings about verdict in Phoenix body parts donation lawsuit]

A jury handed down the ruling Tuesday after a civil lawsuit was filed against the body donation center. The civil suit, filed in July, claimed the FBI found buckets of body parts, a cooler filled with male genitalia and the bodies of different people sewn together at the Phoenix facility. 

FBI agents raided the now-shuttered Biological Resource Center in Phoenix back in 2014. The raid was part of a multi-state investigation into the illegal trafficking and sale of human body parts. One agent claimed he found a "cooler filled with male genitalia," "a bucket of heads, arms and legs," "infected heads" and a small woman's head sewn onto a large male torso "like Frankenstein" hanging up on the wall. According to the lawsuit, the bodies were cut up with chain saws, and "pools of human blood and bodily fluids were found on the floor of the freezer" with no identification tags on the bodies.

"Everybody's been horrified, everybody thought they were doing something good for humanity, this is a chance to give back, to donate," said Gwen Aloia. "It's hard to get closure in something like this, cause you don't know the answers."
 
Aloia said her husband's body parts were found in several different states. 
 
"The ugly details of just body parts that are left behind," Aloia said. "I know my husband went several different places, I don't know if the ashes they gave me back are really him. It's just, it's horrific."  

[RELATED: FBI found bucket of human heads, body parts sewn together 'like Frankenstein' at Phoenix facility]

“You feel like you’ve won something but it’s not a win. No one wins in this type of situation: said Troy Harp, who donated his mother and grandmother to BRC years ago. “This is an American horror story at its best and it’s real and I’m living it.”

Harp was promised their bodies would be used for science and education. He testified in court during the trial.

“I had mixed emotions on everything. I thought I was going to go in there gung ho and strong, but it was a learning experience for me. It was emotional. Um it was traumatizing,” he said. “Hearing some of the testimonies and the details coming out was something no one should ever hear.”  

Harp said he plans to invest in education about these kinds of facilities and fight for increased regulation.

“These laws have to change, they do have to change,” he said.

But he said for now, he’s celebrating this victory with his mother and grandmother, who he has been fighting for all along.

“I looked up and said ‘Hey. We made it. We made it this far,” he said.

The owner, Stephen Gore, pleaded guilty to illegal control of an enterprise. He was sentenced to one year of differed jail time and four years probation. Harp has said that was not enough, and he wanted to see more federal regulation of these facilities.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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