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‘The Ultimate Breach of Trust’: Family Member Demands Answers From Harvard Medical School on Human Remains Theft

Janet Pizzi speaks at a June press conference held after Harvard informed her that her uncle’s remains had been mishandled by former Medical School morgue manager Cedric Lodge.
Janet Pizzi speaks at a June press conference held after Harvard informed her that her uncle’s remains had been mishandled by former Medical School morgue manager Cedric Lodge. By Sami E. Turner
By Neil H. Shah, Crimson Staff Writer

Local nurse Janet Pizzi demanded “answers” and “accountability” from Harvard Medical School during a June 28 press conference after being notified by Harvard that her uncle’s remains had been mishandled by former Medical School morgue manager Cedric Lodge.

Lodge, who federal prosecutors allege stole and transported human remains from the Medical School’s morgue, was indicted June 14 by a Pennsylvania grand jury on counts of conspiracy and aiding and abetting the interstate transport of stolen goods.

The event was organized by Keches Law Group attorneys Jonathan D. Sweet and Jeffrey N. Catalano, who are representing “over 310 different people” — including Pizzi — in a class action lawsuit against the University and Lodge alleging negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and infliction of emotional distress.

Harvard Medical School spokesperson Ekaterina D. Pesheva declined to comment on any pending litigation.

Pizzi spoke about her reactions to hearing that her uncle, Michael Pizzi, had been “affected at Harvard Medical School,” saying that receiving the news “really brought back a lot of pain and suffering.”

“I know there are so many people out there right now that are experiencing the same thing that I think it’s really, really important that we need some answers as to how this happened,” she said. “There’s a tremendous amount of accountability that has to be stepped up to here.”

According to Pizzi, Lodge’s alleged misconduct was “the ultimate breach of trust” and Harvard Medical School is “where the ultimate responsibility lies.”

“Harvard Medical School violated all of these folks and their families,” Pizzi said. “I certainly think they had a responsibility to respect and protect the bodies of those that were donated and that apparently was violated.”

Pizzi encouraged other affected families to speak out and seek answers, adding that understanding what happened may help families “move on.”

“I’ve certainly sought answers and attempted to get answers — which I have not gotten yet — but it’s a very painful experience and I can tell you that,” she said. “I’m sure it’s very painful for all of the other folks — I can’t speak for anyone but myself — but that’s been my experience.”

Pizzi also discussed the need for increased “oversight” at the Medical School, saying that “people need to be watching and paying attention.”

“I don’t understand why there was no cameras, why people weren’t seeing this,” she said.

Sweet — one of the two lawyers that filed the class action suit — said that a “primary goal” of the litigation is to “find out how this could’ve gone on for so long with the apparent complete lack of supervision over this individual who was running the morgue.”

In an interview with The Crimson after the media session, Sweet spoke about his desire to give the alleged victims’ families “closure” and to “help ensure that proper controls are put in place at this medical school and others that are out there that maybe don’t have controls either to prevent this from happening again.”

“I’m hesitant to characterize what we see as a good outcome in terms of victory,” Sweet said. “There really are no ‘winners’ here.”

Correction: July 12, 2023

A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Keches Law Group attorney Jonathan D. Sweet.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at neil.shah@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @neilhshah15.

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