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JAMA 100 Years Ago
March 23/30, 2005


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(12):1518. doi:10.1001/jama.293.12.1518-b

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin says that the case of Koerber vs. Patek presented a field for consideration unchartered by any direct decisions in that court. It was alleged in the complaint that the plaintiff was the son and heir of his mother, who died in a hospital, and was by her, before her death, instructed and requested to take charge of her body for purposes of burial, and was the only person interested; that he did so, removing the body to his residence, and proceeding to have the same prepared for burial; that the defendant requested permission to merely examine the stomach of said body, which request being granted, he wilfully, etc., without authority, etc., cut out and carried away the stomach, and refused to return the same on request, whereby burial became necessary without it; that thereby the rights of the plaintiff had been recklessly and wilfully trespassed on, and his feelings greatly injured, so that he had suffered both in mind and in body, to his damage $5,000. The conclusion of the Supreme Court, reached after discussion, protracted, it says, perhaps unduly in deference to the novelty of the question in Wisconsin, and to the earnestness of counsels’ argument, is that the complaint stated a good cause of action in favor of the plaintiff, and that the trial court erred is sustaining a demurrer to it.

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