ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A couple whose 17-year-old son died in a car crash on Staten Island was awarded $600,000 for emotional distress after the medical examiner kept his brain without their knowledge.
Jesse Shipley’s parents didn’t find out about it until two months later when the teen’s high school class saw it in a labeled jar during a field trip in 2005.
The Medical Examiner’s office told the parents the brain was held for tests with other brains, but the parents said they were never informed.
The Shipleys sued to get Jesse’s brain back following the field trip, and their son was buried a second time.
The Court of Appeals was hearing the case Monday and is considering how long medical examiners can keep organs for autopsy and if they must tell next-of-kin.
New York City filed the appeal that took the case to New York’s highest court, claiming pathologists have no legal duty to notify families or return organs.
The Shipleys were initially awarded $1 million by a jury, which was then reduced to $600,000 by a midlevel court.
They said if they had been informed that an organ was being held for later testing, they might have delayed their son’s funeral, instead of having two.
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