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Verdict in Arizona ‘human chop shop’ case could reverberate in Colorado

Posted: 7:27 PM, Nov 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-20 22:05:35-05
FBI agents, police search Montrose funeral home doubling as body parts broker

DENVER – Nearly a dozen people in Arizona were awarded $58 million this week following a civil injury lawsuit in which they alleged a now-closed donation body facility mishandled the donated remains of their loved ones and deceived them about how the body parts would be used.

That verdict could reverberate here in Colorado, where more than five dozen family members are currently suing the people who operated the now shut-down Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose for allegedly deceiving Colorado families and selling the body parts of their deceased loved ones on the black market to large corporations for significant dollars.

In February of 2018, Colorado regulators shut down the funeral home at the same time the FBI was investigating claims families did not receive the real cremains of their loved ones.

“I think that’s something that’s going to be exposed in the Colorado case,” said Michael Burg, a Denver attorney who represented the families in Arizona, “and hopefully, we are going to stop that side of this horrible industry also.”

It’s still unclear how far the lawsuit could potentially go in Colorado, following a Nov. 7 order reported by the Montrose Press, that dismissed the county coroner from claims made against him by families in the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home case because he is shielded by the state’s Governmental Immunity Act.

Some Colorado lawmakers are currently working to pass a law that would make it illegal for funeral home or crematory owners to operate as body brokers.