03 Feb SON HOT – SUES OVER DAD’S FROZEN HEAD
“They chopped his head off, burned his body, put it in a box and sent it to my house,” stated Kurt Pilegram who has sued cryogenics firm, Alcor Life Extension Foundation (“Alcor”), for a million dollars for emotional distress for what they did to his father’s body after his death. His father, Laurence, paid Alcor $120,000 to cryogenically preserve his body at a temperature of -196 until technology could bring him back to life. Laurence died at age 90 of a heart attack – more than 20 years after he signed the contract.
Kurt was shocked and horrified when he received a package at his home containing his dad’s ashes, notwithstanding his father’s contract to have his dad’s entire body frozen. His father’s head was not listed as part of the ashes package (Kurt had the ashes tested one day later to determine the head had been removed). It was “neuro-separated” by Alcor and placed in a vat of liquid nitrogen in Arizona.
Alcor contends that the cryogenic process is dependent upon being notified as soon as possible after death. In this case, Laurence’s body was kept at the county morgue for three days at a temperature of 30 degrees before Alcor was notified of his death. Due to the delay, Alcor then immediately covered Laurence’s body with dry ice before the head separation and body cremation. Alcor’s reason for this is that future science may help the ability to regrow a young, healthy body around a functioning brain. The condition of Laurence’s 90-year-old brain is unknown.
Alcor has now countersued Kurt for fraud, claiming he has hidden or destroyed Laurence’s Will and Codicil (which Alcor states has a provision that if a beneficiary challenges Laurence’s wish on how Laurence’s body was to be preserved, then such beneficiary would only get $1). Kurt and his brother inherited their dad’s $16 Million estate under laws of intestacy (being the closest heirs if there is no Will). Alcor also alleges that Kurt stopped Alcor from receiving an $80,000 life insurance policy to help pay for the head preservation.
Although there is no question that you can choose what happens to your body after you pass, the questions of fraud, breach of contract, potential damages, etc., will be determined by the court in the trial scheduled for September.
If interested in learning more, consider attending our next free “Estate Planning Essentials” workshop by calling us at (214) 720-0102 or sign up by clicking here.