Family taking $350K in Vegas missing organs claim

AP News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2012 4:46 PM
Family taking $350K in Vegas missing organs claim

The family of a British commodities trader who died while partying in Las Vegas will accept $350,000 to end a federal lawsuit stemming from the disappearance of the man's internal organs after an autopsy and before his body was returned to London, their lawyer said Wednesday.

Relatives of Richard Boorman will take $50,000 that Clark County commissioners agreed to offer on Tuesday and a pending $300,000 insurance settlement from the funeral home that handled Boorman's remains.

However, family members don't think they got satisfactory answers about what became of Boorman's heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain in 2005, attorney Jonathan Charles Capp said.

"It's a done deal," Capp told The Associated Press. "But we're really none the wiser. It looks like we'll never know what happened to the organs of Richard Boorman."

County officials told commissioners they don't believe the county was at fault. They blamed the Nevada Funeral Home, a company that court records say is now out of business with an owner who filed for personal bankruptcy.

The mortuary acknowledged no wrongdoing in the insurance settlement filed Dec. 28 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

Attorney Josh Cole Aicklen, representing the mortuary's current owner, Nevada Memorial Cremation Society Inc., said he didn't want to comment until a judge finalized the settlement.

Coroner Michael Murphy said he couldn't comment about the case.

"There was no finding, no determination ever, as to what happened to the viscera," county attorney Stephanie Barker told elected officials.

The coroner determined that Boorman died June 28, 2005, of acute cocaine and alcohol intoxication after collapsing in a Las Vegas Strip casino during a bachelor party trip to the U.S. He was pronounced dead at a hospital, and the cause of death was ruled accidental.

The organs were removed and dissected as part of the autopsy then placed in a plastic bag and moved with the body to the mortuary, according to county officials.

The organs should have been replaced in the body cavity of the embalmed corpse before it was shipped to the United Kingdom, officials said. But a medical technician checking Boorman's body in London on July 12 reported the organs were missing. He found a rolled-up bed sheet in the chest cavity, according to the lawsuit.

Boorman's mother, brothers, grandmother, aunt and cousin sued the county and the mortuary in May 2007.

Capp said family members were dismayed that no criminal investigation was conducted. They suspected that coroner's documents certifying that Boorman's organs were sent to the mortuary had been altered.

Boorman's body was cremated in England, along with the bed sheet and any other evidence, according to the lawsuit.