When Does Claim For Unlawful Harvesting Of Body Parts Occur ? NJ Supreme Court Decides.

In Memorial Properties v. Zurich American Ins. Co. , the New Jersey Supreme Court held that 2 insurance companies that issued policies to a cemetary are not obligated to cover claims for the illegal harvesting of  human remains sent to the cemetary for cremation. Seven lawsuits were filed against the cemetary by family members of decedents alleging emotional distress when they learned of the unlawful harvesting of tissue and organs from loved ones prior to being sent for cremation.

Zurich denied coverage on the ground that the occurrences were outside the policy period. Another carrier relied on an “improper handling ” exclusion. For purposes of determining coverage , the Supreme Court held that the relevant occurrence took place in 2006 which was outside Zurich’s policy period, when the decedent’s families learned of the unlawful harvesting, not in 2003 when the harvesting took place.  The Supreme Court affirmed trial and appellate court decisions that neither policy was required to defend or indemnify the cemetary .

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