A former Harvard Medical School morgue manager as well as Harvard officials are now facing a class action lawsuit in connection with the alleged mishandling, theft and sale of donated human remains from the Harvard Medical School morgue. 

Keches Law Group filed the suit on Thursday, naming the president and fellows of Harvard College as defendants alongside former morgue manager Cedric Lodge. 

The suit, filed on behalf of plaintiff John Bozek and “all others similarly situated,” follows days after federal authorities announced allegations that several people took part in the sale and transportation of stolen body parts from the Harvard Medical School morgue in a case spanning several states. 

The suit says families entrusted the deceased bodies of their family members into Harvard’s custody for medical research and academic study. The suit then alleges Harvard and Lodge breached duty of care and were negligent by failing to take responsible steps to ensure the cadavers were properly handled. 

“We hope to bring to these families, by filing this lawsuit, a second closure,” said Keches Law Group attorney Jonathan Sweet.

“This case is about getting to the truth of what happened there, how it could happen for such a long time,” Sweet separately said. 

Lead plaintiff John Bozek, of Tewksbury is taking part in the suit on behalf of his mother, Adele Mazzone. 

Prior to her death in February of 2019, the lawsuit says Mazzone agreed to donate her body to Harvard. 

“When Harvard Medical School was done researching the body, it was cremated and delivered back to the family,” Sweet said.

The lawsuit, though, also says Mazzone’s body was then one of the many donated cadavers mishandled at the medical school. 

Attorneys involved in the lawsuit spoke on Friday afternoon, saying between 350 and 400 cadavers could have been affected. Now, the lawsuit in this case is seeking monetary damages for families impacted. 

“When this kind of thing happens, it strips that person, who even though they’re no longer on this earth, deserves dignity,” said Jeff Catalano of Keches Law Group. “That’s the real trauma.” 

“That’s what I’m hearing from people calling me with quaking voices about the fact that they never could have imagined that something like this could happen,” Catalano continued.

7NEWS reached out to Harvard on Friday and was told the university had no comment on the lawsuit.

Indictment details allegations in stolen body parts case

A criminal indictment in the case filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said at least four individuals were charged with trafficking body parts stolen from cadavers donated to Harvard Medical through the school’s Anatomical Gift Program.

The court paperwork identified Lodge as the manager of the medical school’s morgue and detailed how, between 2018 and 2022, he and three other defendants, including his wife, Denise Lodge, 63, worked to move, sell or purchase organs, skin and other parts from bodies that were donated for educational purposes.

The other two defendants named were Katrina Maclean, 44, of Salem, Mass., and Joshua Taylor, 46, a resident of West Lawn, Penn.

Authorities previously searched the Lodges’ home in Goffstown, New Hampshire in March before returning this week to take the couple into custody. 

FBI agents separately descended upon Maclean’s home in Salem in March, as well as her business “Kat’s Creepy Creations” in Peabody.

An Instagram page believed to be the businesses’ at the time described it is a place full of “creepy dolls, oddities and bone art.” According to the indictment, the business was where Maclean stored and sold the stolen body parts.

The Lodges and Maclean each appeared in various courtrooms on Wednesday, where they were each released on personal recognizance. 

Harvard University Dean of the Faculty of Medicine George Daley and Harvard Medical School Dean for Medical Education Edward Hundert addressed allegations on Wednesday in a public letter entitled “An abhorrent betrayal.”

Officials on Wednesday said “Investigators believe that Lodge acted without the knowledge or cooperation of anyone else at HMS or Harvard.” Officials also said they were working to determine which donors were impacted. 

Family members of loved ones who donated their bodies to Harvard Medical School react to allegations

Families of people who donated their bodies to Harvard Medical School speaking with 7NEWS said Harvard sent out letters the day after the news of allegations related to the Harvard Medical School morgue broke. 

The letters, families said, either told them their officials do not believe their loved one’s remains were involved or said officials could not rule out whether their loved one may be involved.

On Friday, Jack Porter shared one of the certified letters, which had information on his late wife Raya’s remains. 

“Harvard admits,” Jack said. “‘At this time, we can’t rule out that Raya Porter’s remains may have been impacted.’”

Raya passed away from colon cancer in 2017 at the age of 57. Her husband said she was a doctor and wanted to support medical training and research by donating her body to Harvard. 

“She was just a wonderful humanitarian,” Jack said. 

The couple trusted Harvard, with Jack saying he is a research associate affiliated with the university. When federal prosecutors detailed allegations against Cedric Lodge, Jack was horrified. 

Jack said he is a child of Holocaust survivors and desacrating bodies reminds him of the dark times loved ones went through.

“The idea that someone would cut the skin of somebody including my own wife, possibly, and make an art piece — That’s what Nazis did,” Jack said.

The Dean of Harvard Medical School apologized to families of donors in the letter provided to Jack Porter. 

The dean also explained “We have been working with information supplied by federal authorities and examining our records, particularly the logs showing when donor remains were sent to be cremated and when Lodge was on campus, to try to determine which donors may have been impacted.”

The letters sent to families said federal authorities are continuing to investigate, adding that officials will be in touch with families as new information becomes available.

Jack Porter said he does not plan to sue Harvard. He said the people responsible will go through the legal system, which is payment enough for him.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox