Court denies motion to dismiss in “Bodies . . .The Exhibition” defamation case

Bodies . . . The Exhibition” features real bodies that have been dissected for display.  As Wiki explains:

The exhibit is set up so that one starts at the skeletal system, and more layers (muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems; as well as fetal development and the treated body) are added in successive rooms. Containing about twenty bodies in total, each exhibition uses real human bodies that have been preserved permanently by a process called “polymer preservation” so that they will not decay.

According to the company that supplies the bodies for the exhibit, the cadavers are the bodies of persons who lived in China and died from natural causes, but whose bodies were unclaimed at death.  As a result, the bodies were donated for education and research.

But controversy over the exhibit erupted when a human rights organization alleged that the bodies were not unclaimed bodies.  The human rights group claimed, instead, that the bodies on display were actually executed Chinese prisoners and that the bodies were purchased on the black market.

The doctor who performed the dissections and the company that preserved the bodies didn’t take the allegations lightly.  They sued the human rights organization for libel and defamation.

This week, a federal court gave plaintiffs the green light to go ahead with their lawsuit.  Now, both parties will proceed with discovery.

Siouxsie hopes that “Bodies” doesn’t have any skeletons of Chinese prisoners in their closet.  Because if there is any truth to the rumors, then their lawsuit and exhibition will be both be finished.

The opinion is here.

Bonus book recommendation:

If you would like to read more about dead bodies, then check out Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach.  The book is a great read and morbidly interesting.  Ms. Roach manages to find humor in the subject matter, but yet maintains a respectful tone.   Stiff explores all types of things that cadavers are good at.  For example, dead bodies are great as crash test dummies and searching for land mines.  The book also discusses the plastination of bodies for exhibits (like the one at the center of the lawsuit discussed above).

Photo courtesy of Smart Destinations.

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~ by siouxsielaw on May 9, 2011.

4 Responses to “Court denies motion to dismiss in “Bodies . . .The Exhibition” defamation case”

  1. I think that both the Bodies and the Doc are public figures. They go on tour and make public appearances on TV. The Doc in question, is like these Bodies’ Col. Tom Parker or Brian Epstein. And, these bodies are rock stars. I don’t think they will prevail on their defamation claims.

  2. I saw two of the Body Worlds exhibits; fascinating stuff!! I do hope that the allegations are untrue. I would really like to think that nothing nefarious was done in the name of science, at least in this case…

    • I missed the Body Worlds exhibit when it was in my city.
      I probably should have added that “Bodies . . . the Exhibition” is a competitor to the better-known exhibit “Body Worlds.”
      Body Worlds” has been around longer, and has its own body donation program. It seems like “Body Worlds” has a much better reputation.

  3. I have seen both Body Worlds and Bodies… the Exhibition. Body Worlds is a wonderful, high quality exhibit. Bodies… however, was lower quality exhibits, broken exhibits, and smaller, less colorful bodies. It would not surprise me if Bodies… is not a legitimate program.

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