Arizona donation facility that sewed together body parts for sale ordered to pay $58 million in lawsuit
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An Arizona body donation facility was ordered on Tuesday to pay $58 million to a group of people who donated their deceased family members’ bodies to the facility, which then reportedly sold human body parts that were intended to be for research.

A jury at the Maricopa County Superior Court ordered the Biological Resource Facility, located in Phoenix, to pay the damages to 10 of the more than 20 people who sued the facility in 2015 over fraud and deception allegations.

The jury ruled that the "human chop shop" and its owner tricked the families into donating their loved ones’ bodies for what they thought was research but ended up dismembering the corpses and selling them for profit in a trafficking scheme, the Arizona Republic reported.

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The plaintiffs were awarded $50 million in punitive damages and $8 million in compensatory damages in the lawsuit.

“Today, this jury sent a loud and clear message to body brokers across the nation that failing to treat donated bodies with dignity and respect, and selling off body parts for profit without full informed consent from the donors will not be tolerated in our society,” trial lawyer David TeSelle said in an online statement.

Timothy O’Connor, who represented facility owner Stephen Gore in the suit, said the plaintiffs signed consent agreements that said the bodies could be “disarticulated,” adding that just because a body was taken apart didn’t mean it wasn’t treated with “dignity and respect,” the Arizona Republic noted.

The verdict comes years after the facility was raided in 2014 by FBI agents in hazmat suits as part of the agency’s multistate investigation into the illegal trafficking and sale of human body parts. Agents found buckets full of body parts, male genitalia in a cooler, and heads and bodies of different people sewn together.

They found “pools of blood and bodily fluids” on the floor of the freezer and a small woman’s head sewn onto a large male torso “like Frankenstein.” A head was said to be priced at $500, while arms were $750 and a whole body could cost as much as $5,000.

Eight families who donated loved ones’ bodies to the facility filed a civil lawsuit in July, alleging that the donors were dismembered and sold for a profit. The suit claims the illegal activity dates back to as early as 2007.

Gore was previously sentenced to a year of deferred prison time and four years of probation after pleading guilty to illegal control of an enterprise.