$1 Million Verdict in “Brain in a Jar” Lawsuit

Awful story. Young and handsome 17-year-old boy is killed in a car accident. Inexplicably, the city morgue displays the child’s brain. Sure enough, the boy’s classmates go on a field trip to the morgue and see the boy’s brain floating in formaldehyde. How did they know it was his? The boy’s name was on it. (The story gets even worse.)

Seriously? The story sounds made up, right down to the part about the kids going on a field trip to the morgue. But no one disputes the facts. Incredible. I usually try to avoid “what a bunch of morons” type rhetoric on this blog. I’ll set that aside for this one. What a bunch of morons. The jury in this case agreed, awarding the family a million-dollar verdict.morgue negligence lawsuit

Everyone at that morgue should be fired. No doubt. Still, we have to value the loss not of the boy but of the morgue’s negligence. The actual loss here is the boy’s death in the car accident, not what happened to some part of his body after the accident. The plaintiffs’ lawyer told the jury that the boy’s sister dropped out of school at age 14 because of devastating survivor’s guilt and relentless teasing by other students. Beyond tragic. But this is not what was at issue in this trial.

If I were on the jury, I’m sure I would have cried a lot during that trial. I would have awarded $10 million – geez, at least – for the family against a defendant at fault for his death in the car accident. I also would have been contemptuous of the morgue’s idiotic mistakes. But would I have awarded the family $1 million against the morgue? No.

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