Families sue over dead bodies

? A New Mexico man received what he thought were the cremated remains of his wife’s body after donating her organs to science — only to learn a few weeks later that police found her body, intact, at the company that was supposed to handle the donation.

Philip Fajardo is now one of two people suing the Albuquerque firm, Bio Care, alleging it gave them ashes it represented as the remains of their loved ones. They say authorities later told them at least parts of the bodies had never been cremated.

“In these instances, they were given an urn full of ashes and they have no way of knowing what those ashes were,” said their attorney, Sam Bregman. “They could be burnt up paper for all they know.”

Fajardo, of Bernalillo County, and Farrah Fasold of Denton County, Texas, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in state district court in Albuquerque seeking unspecified damages against Bio Care and two Bernalillo County companies, New Mexico Mortuary Service Inc. and Director’s Choice LLC.

The families were “extremely distressed when they learned that their loved ones’ remains had been mistreated,” the complaint said.

They allege negligence by all three companies; fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Unfair Practices Act by Bio Care; and conspiracy by the other two companies.

Bio Care harvested organs from donated bodies to sell for medical research, then was supposed to cremate the remains and return the ashes to the families.

But authorities began raising questions last month after finding body parts at a Kansas City, Kan., medical waste company, Stericycle Inc. They discovered the body parts belonged to people whose cremated remains had supposedly been returned to families.

Bio Care’s owner, Paul Montano, was arrested March 31 on fraud charges after seven heads, a torso and several limbs found in Kansas were traced to Bio Care.