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Indiana funeral director resigns after refusing to create fake bodies

Normally, wrongful discharge lawsuits aren't that strange; people can sue for a variety of reasons and most of the time those reasons are backed by evidence of discrimination, harassment, or other violations of employment law. But a bizarre case in Indianapolis has residents buzzing this month about a man who had to resign from his position because he refused to create fake cadavers for a funeral home.

The man, who started working as the funeral director for Alpha Funeral Service of Indianapolis in January 2012, claims that while working at the funeral home, his employer frequently loaned out cadavers to Indiana University's School of Medicine. Whether there was proper documentation, or whether the deceased's family knew about the exchange with the medical school, the complaint does not specify.

In the summer of 2012, the man claims that he was contacted by the Director of the Anatomical Education Program at the university, inquiring about three cadavers neither he nor other staff could locate. The funeral director also checked on his end and both men came to the same conclusion: the bodies were missing.

When he reported this to his boss, he claims that he was ordered to 'get this handled and taken care of.' According to the complaint, the man understood this order to mean that he was supposed to gather miscellaneous remains to create three new cadavers, then to misrepresent or fake the identities of the bodies. Under Indiana law, knowingly misidentifying human remains is a Class D felony which could have serious legal consequences if charged and convicted of such crimes.

Fearing the potential criminal ramifications, he refused the order, subsequently resigning from his position in October 2012 to 'avoid potential criminal and/or civil liability.'

He is now suing the funeral home for lost wages and punitive damages for what could be viewed as wrongful discharge.

Source: Courthouse News, "Man Says He Wouldn't Fake Cadavers," Jack Bouboushian, Jan. 23, 2013

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