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Two New Harvard Medical School Employees Named in Class Action Lawsuit Over Mishandling of Human Remains

The class action lawsuit originally only named University and former Harvard Medical School morgue manager Cedric Lodge as defendants.
The class action lawsuit originally only named University and former Harvard Medical School morgue manager Cedric Lodge as defendants. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Nia L. Orakwue, Crimson Staff Writer

Updated August 22, 2023, at 11:08 a.m.

In an amended complaint filed last month, Harvard Medical School Anatomical Gift Program managers Mark F. Cicchetti and Tracey Fay were added as defendants in a class action lawsuit over the alleged mishandling of donated human remains at the HMS morgue.

The suit, which was filed in the Massachusetts Suffolk County Superior Court by Keches Law Group, originally only named the University and former HMS morgue manager Cedric Lodge. The amended complaint, filed July 10, accuses Cicchetti and Fay — who remain HMS employees — of negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

In June, Lodge was indicted by federal prosecutors for allegedly stealing and transporting human remains. At the time of the alleged thefts, Cicchetti and Fay were employed as the managing director and manager of the HMS Anatomical Gifts Program, respectively.

Jonathan D. Sweet, an attorney representing the affected families, wrote in an emailed statement that the new defendants were named due to their roles as directors of the Anatomical Gift Program and “supervisory responsibilities as to the donor bodies and the morgue manager Cedric Lodge.”

“Defendant Mark F. Cicchetti and Defendant Tracey Fay had a duty to safeguard the donors’ bodies and to ensure that their loved ones’ bodies were not defiled for non-anatomical research purposes,” the amended filing reads. “Harvard and HMS directors breached this duty when they failed to take reasonably supervisory steps to verify that the bodies of the donors were treated with proper and reasonable decency after Harvard had no further use for them in the HMS.”

Families of the deceased initially filed a class action lawsuit against the University and Lodge on June 16, alleging negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and infliction of emotional distress. Two more class action lawsuits were filed against the University last month by affected families.

“Harvard and HMS and its managers failed to exercise the minimal reasonable level of care with respect to the safe custody, handling, and supervision of donor bodies after their use for anatomical study,” the amended complaint reads.

HMS spokesperson Ekaterina D. Pesheva declined to comment on the pending litigation or the allegations made against Cicchetti and Fay.

“Harvard does not comment on pending litigation,” Pesheva wrote in an email. “It is important to note, however, that other than former employee Cedric Lodge, no one at HMS is facing any criminal charges or is suspected of any wrongdoing. As stated in the indictment, Lodge’s activities were carried out without the knowledge or permission of anyone else at HMS.”

Attorneys on behalf of the Medical School, Cicchetti, and Fay did not respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Lodge could not be identified.

—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at nia.orakwue@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @nia_orakwue.

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