Lifestyle & Belief

NY parents win $1 million lawsuit after dead son's brain found on display


Plastinated slices of the human brain, marked with red dots to indicate that only institutions may buy them, lie on display for sale for up to EUR 625 each at the shop of the Plastinarium on May 28, 2010 in Guben, Germany.


Sean Gallup

A Staten Island jury has awarded $1 million to the parents of a car crash victim after they accidentally discovered that his brain was on display in a jar at the city morgue.

After Jesse Jerome Shipley, 17, was killed in a car crash in 2005, his devout Catholic family held a funeral for him. 

However, two months later Shipley's sister Shannon, a passenger in the car with Shipley when he died, was with her Port Richmond High School classmates on a forensic science club field trip at the Staten Island Mortuary when they spotted his brain in the jar labeled "Jesse Shipley," according to The New York Post.

"[The Shipleys’ daughter] Shannon came home and told them everybody in school was talking about it, that the medical examiner’s office had Jesse’s brain," family lawyer Anthony Galante said, the New York Daily News reported.

The medical examiner's office had kept Shipley's brain and other organ parts for testing.

The Post reported:

Asked in a deposition about the reason for the delay between the autopsy and the brain examination, Dr. Stephen de Roux of the ME's office explained, "I wait months, until I have six brains, and then it's kind of worth [the neuropathologic examiner's] while to make the trip to Staten IslandMorgue put boy's brain on display to examine six brains. It doesn't make sense for him to come and do one."

City lawyer Sheila Rossi expressed sympathy for the family's "tragic loss."