The Maricopa County Superior Court jury made the ruling on Tuesday against Stephen Gore, the owner of Biological Resource Center, and in favor of ten of twenty-one plaintiffs who sued his company.
Plaintiffs alleged that they were deceived and told the bodies of their loved ones were going to be used for research. Instead, they were sold for other uses, including ballistics testing.
The Arizona Republic documented the story of Gwen Aloia, one of the plaintiffs who won $5.5 million in the case. She had signed over the body of her husband Louis in 2013 to the Biological Resource Center while he was in hospice care.
FBI agents later discovered the head of her husband in a freezer during their investigation.
Gore's lawyer argued that the families were not deceived, but the jury was persuaded by claims that his company conflated the terms "body donation," which is unregulated, and "organ donation," which is highly regulated.
A bizarre detail from the investigation describes how FBI agents found a cooler full of penises that had been dismembered from the donated bodies. The investigation did not discover what the body parts were being saved for, but the plaintiffs' lawyer told the jury they were clearly being collected for "something."
Gore said in a 2015 letter to a judge that he felt overwhelmed but that the industry was unregulated.
"I could have been more open about the process of donation on the brochure we put in public view," Gore admitted.
"When deciding which donors could be eligible to donate," he added, "I should have hired a medical director rather than relying on medical knowledge from books or the internet."
Here's more about the gruesome story:
Jury awards $58 million against body donation firm www.youtube.com