Hela in Thor Ragnarok used the Eternal Flame to reanimate the honored dead of Asgard for her personal mindless army. Could the descendants of those soldiers sue Hela for desecration of a corpse?
Law of the Dead
It has been long established since the time of Ginnungagap that the “family of the deceased has a legally recognized right to entomb the remains of the deceased family member in their integrity and without mutilation.” Koerber v. Patek, 123 Wis. 453 (1905). As such, the next of kin have a claim against whoever mutilates a corpse. Id. This is a personal right of the family of the deceased to bury a body and an actionable wrong. Carney v. Knollwood Cemetery Ass’n, 33 Ohio App. 3d 31, 36, (1986). The recognized basis for damages is for emotional suffering. Id. Courts have held that direct blood descendants have standing to sue for desecration of a corpse. Carney, at *37.
Statutes prohibiting the removal of human bodies have been found to apply to bodies that have been deceased for thousands of years. State v. Redd, ,992 P.2d 986, 990-91 (1999 Sup.Ct.). The purpose of applying the law to all dead bodies is to protect the remains of pioneers buried laid to rest in crude graves, war dead, or victims of accidents or crimes. Id.
Hela entered the tomb of the honored dead by breaking through the ceiling of the tomb. This action would be the willful destruction of a tomb (and likely a monument) or possibly defacing. Many states have laws prohibiting the destruction of tombs and gravestones, which Hela clearly violated. See, Tenn. Code Ann. § 46-1-313.
Hela’s use of the Enteral Flare disturbed the corpses of Asgard’s honored dead. This patently violated the integrity of the bodies, infusing them with an unnatural life. The bodies did not appear to return to their living state, but remained decayed. Moreover, the bodies acted as decomposed drones that followed Hela’s orders to attack the citizens of Asgard. Any descendants who saw their reanimated ancestors murder their fellow citizens would suffer emotional harm (and be in mortal danger as well).
Hela would be subject to the lawsuits by the direct descendants of the honored dead who were reanimated by the Eternal Flame. This act did not restore them to life, but used their putrefied remains to butcher Asgardians. While desecration of the corpse cases are not normally class actions based on supernatural actions, there is a first time for everything.
Hela could also be prosecuted for defacing the tomb of the honored dead and reanimating them. Her actions violated the letter and spirit of the law that protects bodies from being mutilated.
A defense attorney might argue Hela was the rightful queen of Asgard, thus could violate corpses and murder the citizens of Asgard. The problem with that position, is a leader is never justified in murdering their people. Thor was right to defend the Asgardian people from extermination. Moreover, if ever there is a time for a revolution, it is when a ruler decides to slaughter her people.