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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In two actions, the families of deceased persons sued the Anatomical Board and 17 other defendants for the alleged mishandling of the deceased persons’ corpses after they had been donated through the Willed Body Program, which was run by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The families claimed that Allen Tyler, the supervisor of the program, negligently commingled the ashes of the donors’ bodies. Among others, they also raised claims of failure to investigate those who were suspected of mishandling corpses. The trial court granted the board’s plea to the jurisdiction in both cases. HOLDING:Affirmed. The families claim their actions sound in tort, not contract, and can be maintained under the Texas Tort Claims Act. They claim the corpses were tangible personal property that the board misused, and immunity is waived for cases related to the use of tangible personal property. The court agrees that the families’ claims are essentially ones based on breach of contract. Basically, they are alleging that the bodies were not handled in accordance with the terms set forth in the forms they filled out to donate the bodies. The court adds that the board did not waive its immunity from suit on a contract simply by accepting the bodies. The state does not waive immunity by contracting with private parties. OPINION:Steve McKeithen, C.J.; McKeithen, C.J., Burgess and Gaultney, JJ.

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