New York’s highest court was asked to decide whether medical examiners must inform families when they return autopsied bodies without certain organs.
The case involves a New York City couple who buried their 17-year-old son after a 2005 car crash, not knowing his brain had been removed. Two months later, Jesse Shipley’s high school class saw his brain in a labeled jar during a morgue field trip.
The Shipleys got it back and had a second funeral. A jury awarded them $1 million for emotional distress, reduced to $600,000 by a midlevel court.
Lawyers for New York City argued Monday that pathologists have no legal duty to notify families or return organs, though they have recently and 80 percent of families don’t want them.
A Court of Appeals ruling is expected next month.