Delgado vs. Long Beach Memorial
Stephen Smith obtained summary judgment on behalf of a funeral home in this unusual case involving the wrongful harvesting of the decedent's corneas. The decedent, a twenty nine year old woman, died from complications of childbirth at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Her family retained the firm's client, Grupo Deco funeral home, to attend to the remains and arrange for services. After a second, private autopsy, it was discovered that decedent's corneas had been harvested at some point despite a lack of consent from the family. Plaintiffs alleged that one or more of the defendants wrongfully harvested the corneas. However, Plaintiffs could not identify any wrongful act of the firm's client nor could they produce any evidence as to the condition of the decedent's remains at any point in time when the remains were in the client's custody. Based upon this lack of evidence and an inability of plaintiffs to demonstrate that this matter was one of res ipsa loquitor, the firm successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of the funeral home.