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Daughter of doctor who went to Harvard Medical School then returned after his death is latest to sue over body-part thefts

Cedric Lodge and his GRIM-R license plate

From the complaint: Lodge and his Grim Reaper license plate.

If nothing else, Anne Weiss argues, the license plate on Cedric Lodge's car should have made officials at Harvard Medical School suspicious what their mortuary director was up to all those years. But they weren't, Weiss claims, and so they're as much to blame for the grief that has fallen over her and other people whose relatives willed their bodies to medical research - only to learn last month that Lodge was busy selling off brains, faces and other body parts to a ghoulish ring of collectors.

In a lawsuit filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Weiss is seeking to become lead plaintiff in a class action against Harvard Medical School for what went on at the school's mortuary between 2018 and 2023 - when, federal officials charge, Lodge ran the mortuary as a parts supermarket.

Weiss says that before his death in 2018, her father, Dr. William Buchanan of Greenfield, asked that his body be donated to the medical school he attended, as "a logical extension" of his devotion to medicine and education. Buchanan had spent 40 years as a pediatrician in the western Massachusetts community following his graduation from Harvard Medical School.

According to Weiss's complaint, her father's body was delivered to the school within a day after his death - the family held a funeral without his body "where they celebrated his life and memory."

Then, last month, the complaint continues, the school notified her that her father's body "may have been impacted" by Lodge's actions.

This ghoulish black market was allowed to flourish in plain sight operated by an HMS morgue employee whose lack of respect for the dead was obvious to anyone who scrutinized his behavior; it is alleged that he drove to work each day and presumably parked in the HMS parking lot with a license plate identifying him as the "Grim-R" - as in, the grim reaper.

The Grim Reaper posted images of himself dressed up in the garb of the undertaker in a Dickens novel with a black top hat and overcoat. His license plate and open association with macabre hobbies revealed his view of his job at the morgue as a backdrop for his fantasies instead of a place of reverence and respect. This "undertaker" invited his cohorts who fetishized human body parts to the morgue to shop. The Grim Reaper publicized his mocking moniker all while treating the morgue as an amusement park attraction for his friends and customers. Despite these tell-tale signs of malfeasance, he continued to have unfettered access to the remains donated to the morgue.

Also:

A basic routine interview with Lodge about his vanity plate may have led to the revelation that he and his wife frequented social media sites focused on macabre hobbies associated with the occult, including the collection and trading of human remains ...

It is apparent that no such background interview ever happened.

Weiss's suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and interference with a corpse.

Her suit is at least the third by survivors seeking to become the lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit against Harvard.

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Comments

The alleged crimes are repulsive, and the alleged criminals should be prosecuted vigorously for their crimes against the state. But the civil actions just seem like cash grabs to me.

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And the idea that Harvard should have known what this person was doing because he had a novelty license plate is a real stretch. (They should have known for other reasons.)

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I once met a urologist whose car had the vanity plates "P P DOC", so I'd have just assumed this guy had a similar sense of humor.

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n/t

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Don't you usually think things are a cash grab? Seems I've heard you make that accusation a few times in the past.

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I also questioned the instant-turnaround food poisoning lawsuit factory in another thread, but that was pretty obvious.

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Tell me, when was the last time you found out a parent's literal skin was on display in some horror shop in Peabody? I say get all you can out of Harvard.

It's Harvard. Ultimately they can afford it. I can't fault righteously furious, disgusted, re-traumatized people trying to find agency in this helpless situation where they can and give Harvard probably the only repercussions that they'll pay attention to.

I will give you that citing the plate is a little silly but again, who are we to judge people grieving a loved one all over again, on top of the reprehensible nature of the actual crime.

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I question seeking monetary damages from an institution that is also a victim of this crime.

Why don't people sue cemeteries when headstones get vandalized? Because cemeteries don't have gazillion-dollar endowments.

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Ignoring the non sequitur of the second and third sentences to ask ... WTF. Are you here comparing vandalizing a headstone to dismembering and selling ACTUAL HUMAN BODY PARTS. Yiiiiiikes.

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Both crimes are about dishonoring the dead. I think the decedents are beyond caring about their ACTUAL HUMAN BODY PARTS, but the state outlaws such behavior out of respect for the survivors. I have no doubt that a competent lawyer could make a case for negligence or infliction of emotional distress or something against the cemetery in this scenario, but without HMS's deep pockets, why would they?

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Are you doing a bit? How do you not see that a slab of stone is not the same as a human body? I can't even with this. Have a great day, champ.

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Always nice to engage in a discussion with such logic and rigor, without a hint of ad hominem snark! Thanks, champ!

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The longer this drags out, the worse you are going to look. Eat your crow now and deal with this mess.

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If they offered a cash payment to victim's families, the families would claim it was too low and keep suing them anyway.

It sounds like they have already contacted the families to the extent that they have been able to identify what was redirected from cremation.

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Anne Weiss argues, the license plate on Cedric Lodge's car should have made officials at Harvard Medical School suspicious

That's quite a leap. That aside, will all vanity plate holders be investigated for ulterior motives now?

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This gets better and better. In addition to the incredible fairy tale name Cedric Lodge, he wears a top hat and has a vanity plate joking about what he does for a living. This is straight out of a comic book.

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so his persona still needs work. Shouldn't Cedric Lodge, the Grim Reaper, drive a Cadillac?

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Has t be a vintage hearse.

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a Cadillac hearse. 1962 or thereabouts.

I was in one once, as a hitchhiker, when it suffered a blowout at 80 mph on route 70 near the Kansas-Colorado border. We ended up in a cornfield. There must have been 4 or 5 people in that thing even before they stopped for us, 2 hitchhikers and a golden retriever. I do not think the gods rewarded them properly for their generosity. Neither did we; they had to stick with the hearse, but we just put out our thumbs and were on our way again within minutes.

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More like a USPS Mail truck.

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You more or less have to have a bit of gallows humor to work in that sort of profession, and it's entirely compatible with empathy and kindness -- I know this from personal experience with people who have worked closely with the dead or dying. Vanity plates are often funny, and it's reasonable for it to be a grim sort of funny.

The allegations of the dress-up stuff and the occult/macabre social media fascination are more concerning "warning signs", although I'm not sure how reasonable it is to expect Harvard to have known about that.

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explains a lot about this story.

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This is not one of the many BS lawsuits that occur in this country. I can’t think of a more justifiable case. The families absolutely deserve monetary recompense. I DO think the license plate is part of the argument that Harvard was utterly negligent in its oversight.

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