Health Law

Ex-patient sues hospital and rabbi because his amputated leg was cremated

A former patient who is an Orthodox Jew is pursuing a lawsuit against a suburban Chicago hospital and a rabbi working there because his leg was cremated after being amputated below the knee, contrary to the mandate of his religion.

Moshe Lefkowitz, 43, contends in the Cook County case that he told both the unidentified rabbi and staff at Skokie Hospital that he wanted his leg preserved so it could eventually be buried with his body, reports the Chicago Tribune.

A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper. However, in earlier proceedings in the 2011 case, which was revived on appeal after being dismissed by a trial court judge, Skokie Hospital said consent forms signed by Lefkowitz provided for cremation of the amputated limb. The hospital also argued, as far as the rabbi is concerned, that so-called “clergy malpractice” is not a viable claim.

In response, Lefkowitz, who is legally blind, said he was told the paperwork he signed was simply to consent to surgery. Lefkowitz said the rabbi was negligent in not informing other hospital staff that he wanted to preserve his leg.

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