A New Mexico family that was outraged to receive their dead relative's brain in a bag wants to give a funeral home a piece of their minds.
The brain was inside a plastic bag labeled "brain," which was shipped in a container filled with the deceased's personal effects, according to News New Mexico.
The family, who has not been identified, says a "foul odor" coming from the container led them to discover the allegedly misplaced brain.
However, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled on Oct. 24 that the family cannot sue the Utah business, SereniCare funeral home, that prepared the relative's body, the Associated Press reports. The court said that the out-of-state funeral home did not have enough contact with New Mexico to be sued there.
The relative in question was a woman killed in a car accident in Utah in 2009. SereniCare prepared the woman's body and personal effects and shipped them to New Mexico, and the family picked up the bag of personal effects from DeVargas Funeral Home in New Mexico.
SereniCare has stated that shipping a brain separate from the body is standard industry practice when the head is severely damaged. Company officials deny claims that they placed the brain in the same bag as the personal items.
Dissenting Judge Tim Garcia argued that the gravity of the circumstances merited the lawsuit moving forward.
"Burial services are a once in a lifetime event for every person," he wrote.
Funeral homes are no strangers to lawsuits. A Pennsylvania family sued both a funeral home and a hospital after they showed up at a viewing, only to discover the wrong body was on display.
In 2011, three women sued an Alabama funeral home that lost their mother's body altogether.