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Trial Starts in Dead Pig-in-Casket Case

April 30, 1993

HONOLULU (AP) _ A jury is hearing arguments on whether a mortuary should be held liable for placing a dead pig in a shipping container with the body of a Jewish woman.

In his opening statement, attorney Mark Davis, representing the family of Mimi Goldberg, told the state circuit jury the act was ″horrifying and despicable″ and a ″defilement of everything that had been important to her and her family.″

To religious Jews, he said Thursday, the pig is the ″worst taboo, a symbol of hatred and contempt throughout history, perhaps only rivaled today by the swastika.″

But an attorney for Nuuanu Mortuary, William McCorriston, said it was an accident, a ″bizarre, unfortunate series of events″ that led to a plastic bag containing the fetal pig being placed in the shipping container.

A part-time employee brought the dead pig, which had been dissected by his wife at home for a college project, to the mortuary in a plastic bag for disposal, and it was mistakenly placed in the casket by an embalmer who thought the bag held personal effects, McCorriston said.

Davis did not disclose how much money the Goldberg family is seeking in the lawsuit, but said he will introduce evidence to support punitive damages. He also said the dead woman’s four grandsons would use the money for philanthropic efforts in her memory against ″religious intolerance.″

Mimi Goldberg, 89, died in April 1990. The contents of the casket were discovered in an Oakland, Calif., synagogue, where the body had been shipped for an Orthodox Jewish burial.

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