Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Cryonics company wins latest court battle over Iowa man’s remains
The Iowa Court of Appeals has ordered the family of a deceased Iowa man to exhume his body so that his previous wishes to have his head frozen by an Arizona cryonics company can be met.
Orville Richardson died in February 2009 at age 81. Five years prior to his demise, he entered into a contract with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation to have his head placed in cryonic suspension at the time of his death. Instead, his brother and sister, David Richardson and Darlene Broeker, who served as co-administrators of his estate, had Orville buried. Two months after Orville’s burial the siblings demanded Alcor return the roughly $50,000 it had been paid for the unused procedure.
Alcor filed a lawsuit to exhume the body, but Des Moines County District Court Judge John Linn ruled in favor of the siblings, on grounds that Iowa law allows families to control the final disposal of a loved one’s remains. According to court documents, the siblings knew about Orville’s decision to have his head frozen and they disagreed with it.
In 2007, when Orville, who had been a pharmacist, was incapacitated with dementia, the siblings petitioned the state to be named as his co-conservators. Broeker also petitioned the state to be appointed as the man’s guardian. Both requests were granted on May 5, 2008. Just a few weeks later, the siblings wrote to Alcor to ask that the company re-issue an uncashed check they had found in Orville’s files. The check was an interest payment on the money Orville had paid for the future procedure. Alcor re-issued funds for both that check and another that had been cashed.
The court notes that, according to Alcor, a cryonics procedure should begin within a few minutes of death, and that it is likely, due to decomposition, that Orville’s head is no longer optimum for the procedure he had wanted.
“David and Darlene argue that Alcor’s request for relief is moot, but we are not persuaded,” wrote Judge Edward Mansfield. “Their claim of mootness is based on the amount of time that Orville’s remains already have been in the ground. David and Darlene content that the additional deterioration makes it even more speculative that Orville could ever be brought back to life. We cannot say, however, that this case is moot, within making scientific and philosophical judgments we are not prepared to make. If this were an ordinary proceeding for reburial in accordance with the testator’s wishes, it would not be moot because of the time elapsed since the initial burial.”