CHARLESTON -- The family of a deceased man claim the Center for Organ Recovery and Education wrongly took their father's and husband's organs, despite their repeated objections to the contrary.
Connie L. Mize and Vivian Newhouse filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against the center.
Mize and Newhouse claim their father and husband, Lewis Otmar Newhouse, died Oct. 8 after suffering from cardiac arrest. At 12:50 a.m. at Charleston Area Medical Center, Lewis Newhouse was pronounced dead, according to the complaint.
At about 3:22 a.m. on Oct. 8, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education attempted to obtain consent from Vivian Newhouse so that her deceased husband's organs could be donated, then harvested, the suit states.
"When the defendant attempted to obtain a consent, Vivian Newhouse first asked the defendant if she could go to sleep and talk to the defendant the next morning," the complaint says. "She was informed by the defendant that it was a time-sensitive matter that could not wait."
The center continued to pressure Vivian Newhouse to donate her husband's organs, but was told by her brother that "she didn't want him to be cut on," the plaintiffs claim. Vivian Newhouse herself even told the center she could not provide permission that night, according to the complaint.
After Vivian Newhouse's repeated refusals to allow the center to harvest her husband's organs, the center obtained consent from Lewis Newhouse's brother-in-law. The only problem -- his brother-in-law is not authorized to give permission for such a procedure under West Virginia law, the suit states.
"Despite knowing that Larry Edens was not an individual authorized under law to give consent for the donation of any organs of Mr. Newhouse, the defendant nonetheless accepted the authorization and then harvested various organs from Mr. Newhouse," the complaint says. "This included skin tissue, bone, tendons, iliac crest and fascia, the pericardium, and Mr. Newhouse's eyes."
As a result, the plaintiffs claim they have suffered extreme emotional distress, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience.
They seek all damages allowed under West Virginia law, including punitive damages.
Arden J. Curry II and Pauley Curry of Charleston will be representing them.
U.S. District Court case number: 2:10-707