Harvard University has temporarily escaped the trial in which it is accused of facilitating organ trafficking

A judge in the US state of Massachusetts on Monday dismissed lawsuits filed by families accusing Harvard University that its employees sold donated organs to the prestigious higher education institution’s medical school, reports Reuters.

Harvard University School of MedicinePhoto: Kevin Galvin / Alamy / Profimedia Images

Judge Kenneth Salinger of the Suffolk Superior Court in Boston ruled that the 12 plaintiffs had not convincingly shown that Harvard University’s Medical School was guilty of bad faith in its handling of the bodies donated for organ harvesting and that it is liable from a legal point of view for the deeds committed by Cedric Lodge, the former director of the university morgue.

“It may not seem fair that Harvard can avoid responsibility and liability in this case if, as the plaintiffs allege, it was negligent in overseeing the activities of HMS Mortuary and as a result allowed Lodge to steal body parts for years days”, admitted the judge in the reasoning of the decision.

But the judge argued that in this case the university enjoys broad immunity since it tried in good faith to comply with Massachusetts law governing organ donation for scientific and educational purposes.

The families who filed the complaints say they will appeal the court ruling

The judge also dismissed charges against two other former university employees, Mark Cicchetti and Tracey Fay, who were responsible for managing a university program to manage cadaver donations for anatomical studies.

Kathryn Barnett, a lawyer representing the plaintiff families, has already said they will appeal the decision.

“These families have had to relive the trauma of losing their loved ones many times over and we strongly believe they deserve to be heard in court,” she said.

Harvard University did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Another trial related to this remains pending in the courts, Cedric Lodge, his wife, Denise Lodge and four other people being indicted last summer for “complicity in theft and transportation of stolen goods”.

The two Lodge spouses and a third person, Katrina Maclean, were arrested in June of last year in a case that shook the reputation of the prestigious higher education institution.

Former employees of Harvard University are accused of shocking facts

Cedric Lodge is accused of being part, between 2018 and 2022, of a “national network of individuals who bought and sold human remains stolen from Harvard and an Arkansas morgue,” federal prosecutors say.

Lodge “stolen organs and other parts from corpses donated to science for medical research and education, before they were cremated,” accuses the indictment drawn up by prosecutors.

According to him, Lodge – who had been employed at Harvard since 1995 – sometimes let potential buyers into the school’s morgue to examine bodies and select certain organs.

In most cases, the buyers then resold them. “The theft and trafficking of human remains touch the very essence of what makes us human beings,” emphasized prosecutor Gerard Karam, denouncing “heinous” and “terrible” acts, and promising justice for the “victims” and their relatives.

The deans of the faculty and Harvard Medical School, George Daley and Edward Hundert, expressed their “horror that something so disturbing could happen on a campus dedicated to caring for others.”

Cedric Lodge was fired in early May of last year, and “investigators believe he acted without the assistance of anyone at Harvard,” university officials said, stressing that the other people charged had “no connection to Harvard.”

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