A man is suing a cryonics company for $1 million—and to get his father’s head returned—after the company cremated the rest of his body.
Kurt Pilgeram, 57, filed a lawsuit against Alcor Life Extension Foundation on behalf of his late father, scientist Laurence Pilgeram, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
“They chopped his head off, burned his body, put it in a box and sent it to my house,” Kurt Pilgeram, told the news site. “Mutilation is basically what they did.”
“They chopped his head off, burned his body, put it in a box and sent it to my house.”https://t.co/kXzLzvRPRJ
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 11, 2019
Laurence, a molecular biologist and biochemist, in 1990 paid the cryonics company $120,000 to preserve his body indefinitely, hoping that one day in the future, technology would allow his life and health to be restored, according to the news site.
But when he died at 90 years old from a cardiac arrest on a public sidewalk on a Friday in 2015, his body was not immediately placed on ice, like the company recommends.
Instead, it was stored in a local morgue over the weekend. Days later, Laurence’s body was taken to a mortuary and placed in dry ice, Alcor said, according to Great Falls Tribune. His head was then separated from his body in a procedure called “neuro separation” five days after his death.
The head was then taken to Arizona to further the cryonic process, where it is currently sitting in liquid nitrogen.
Alcor’s attorney, James Arrowood, said the company relies on relatives informing the nonprofit of deaths.
“So timeliness is entirely dependent upon relatives timely and promptly notifying Alcor of a death,” Arrowood told the paper. “If that is not done properly, there is a big problem.”
About a month after his father’s passing, Kurt received a package in the mail at his home in Montana. He opened it to find his father’s ashes from the shoulders down.
Kurt told the news site he didn’t find out about his father’s head having been removed until a day after he received the ashes. He told the paper he was upset at the way his father’s body had been handled.
“They didn’t handle my dad’s body with any amount of professionalism and respect whatsoever,” Kurt Pilgeram said. “To me, that’s what he deserved.”
Alcor has accused Kurt of trying to receive life insurance funds designated for cryonic preservation under false pretenses. The company said it had upheld its end of the agreement with Laurence Pilgeram.
“Imagine if you made a contract as an adult, and you are of sound mind, and then one of your kids pops up and said, ‘I don’t like that agreement you made?'” Arrowood said. “Generally speaking, many people in cryonics may feel the brain is the most important thing to be preserved.”
— Dan Nowicki (@dannowicki) June 12, 2019
Kurt said he wants the company to return his father’s head. He told the paper he plans to cremate the head if he gets it back and scatter the ashes across a family ranch in Montana, adding that his father once said the ranch is “a superb school of biological science,” according to the publication.
“I think he would probably want it that way,” Kurt said.
Both sides have claimed breach of contract and are currently hashing it out in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court in California, according to Great Falls Tribune.