Cryonics firm sues Burlington family

The Hawkeye, Iowa/June 6, 2009

Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based non-profit corporation, wants local courts to allow it to disinter a Burlington man so he can be preserved in a cryonic process.

Foundation attorneys said Orville Martin Richardson, who died in February at 81, wanted to donate his remains "not only in the hope of potential revival, but also to prove and perfect the process" of cryonic suspension.

Cryonics is the preservation of human remains - and sometimes animals - at very low temperature in the hope that future science can restore them to life, youth and health.

Richardson, according to the lawsuit paid Alcor more than $50,000 in 2004 for a membership and included money in his will. He is buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery.

"I further direct that, when and where possible, such delivery shall take place immediately after my legal death, without embalming or autopsy," Richardson wrote.

He also gave Alcor full custody on his remains "by whatever legal means may be available for the purposes of placing them into cryonic suspension."

Still, Alcor attorneys contend the man's brother, David Richardson of Ohio and his sister Darlene Broeker of West Burlington - co-admnistrators of the estate - denied the foundation's request for their brother's remains. They also didn't let Alcor know their brother died until months after he was buried.

David Richardson and Darlene Broeker said in court papers that their brother discussed donating his brain or entire head for cryonic suspension. They said Orville Richardson wanted his head severed and frozen after he died.

The siblings apparently tried to talk their brother out of the idea and "emphatically told him they would have nothing to do with his plan."

Attorneys for the pair said the brother and sister did not see the contract and their late brother never told them of actually making such arrangements. Further, they contend Orville Richardson, on several occasions, failed to meet with the agreement he had with Alcor, which constitutes cancellation of the agreement.

"All evidence indicates that after Orville (Richardson) signed the agreement and wrote his check, he did nothing to honor the agreement or to make sure that his head would be cut off and frozen after his death," attorneys for the siblings said in court papers asking a judge to deny Alcor's request.

They added David Richardson and Darlene Broeker's opposition to their brother's plan is of "low standing."

Cryonics procedures, according to Alcor, should ideally begin within the first one or two minutes after the heart stops, and preferably within 15 minutes.

Richardson directed in his will that Alcor place into suspension any recoverable remains "regardless of the severity of the damage from such causes as fire, decomposition, autopsy, embalming."

"Because time is of the essence to not only preserve Orville's remains at the earliest time, but also prevent further deterioration for the purposes of scientific research, an expedited hearing is requested," Alcor attorneys said.

District Court Judge John Linn will hear both sides at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

If Alcor is granted its motion, it will shoulder the cost to exhume Orville Richardson's remains.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.