Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Families Sue Bio Care Over Remains

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Company’s attorney says Bio Care required only to provide partial remains, or a “ceremonial amount” of cremated ashes, to family members

Relatives of two people whose remains turned up during a criminal investigation into Bio Care filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the New Mexico nonprofit mishandled donated bodies in its care.

But an attorney representing Bio Care president Paul Montano said Bio Care was required only to provide partial remains, or a “ceremonial amount” of cremated ashes, to family members.

Albuquerque attorney Rudolph Chavez said Montano broke no laws and satisfied all agreements with families that donated bodies to Bio Care.

“Every single person who received cremains indeed received the remains of their loved ones in a ceremonial amount,” Chavez said. “That’s what the contract called for.”

At least two families allege in a lawsuit that Bio Care misrepresented how it would handle the remains of bodies donated for “educational or scientific purposes.”

In both cases, family members say they were given cremated remains and a death certificate, only to learn later that all, or large parts, of their relatives’ bodies were found either at a Kansas waste disposal firm or at Bio Care’s office.

“I’m pretty sure that my clients didn’t allow their loved ones to be mutilated and shipped away with medical waste to Kansas City,” said Sam Bregman, an Albuquerque attorney representing the families.

In one case, Farrah Fasold of Denton, Texas, alleges that Bio Care agreed to return the cremated remains of her father, Harold Dillard, within six weeks after his Dec. 24 death, according to the lawsuit.

Fasold received a package from Bio Care and was told that it contained her father’s ashes.

But in early April, Fasold was told that her father’s head, torso and arm had been identified at a medical waste disposal plant in Kansas City.

In all, seven heads and torsos, along with other body parts, were found by Kansas officials in containers sent from The Learning Center, a New Mexico company owned by Montano.

Albuquerque police charged Montano on April 1 with three counts of felony fraud alleging he mishandled bodies donated for medical research in violation of his contracts with families. He remains free on $50,000 bond.

In the other case cited in the lawsuit, Philip Fajardo of Albuquerque said he was told by Bio Care officials that his wife’s organs were harvested for medical research and that her hip had been transported to a firm in Germany.

Fajardo received ashes in March that Bio Care purported to be those of his wife, who is not identified in the suit. But officials later recovered his wife’s body intact at the Bio Care facility, it said.

“My clients have now been traumatized a second time,” Bregman said. “The first by the loss of a loved one and the second by the apparent greed of Bio Care.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a story about how coronavirus has affected you, your family or your business? Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? What issues related to the topic would you like to see covered? Or do you have a bright spot you want to share in these troubling times?
   We want to hear from you. Please email or Contact the writer.