Having to plan a loved one’s funeral after their unexpected death is agonizing. In the midst of dealing with your own grief, you have to maintain enough composure to ensure that the funeral service and burial will do them justice and honor their memory and the life they lived. For many, having an open casket is an important part of this ritual, so when the funeral home that you entrust with the process fails in its duty of care, you have every right to take legal action. In the case of a New Jersey woman, this means suing the funeral home that failed to embalm her brother, cheating them of the open casket service that they wanted and forcing them to opt for a cremation instead.

Though it is not yet clear whether this is a case of cemetery fraud or simple negligence, it is abundantly clear that the Pratt family was wronged by the Carl Miller Funeral Home. Ashkeya Pratt-Williams contracted with the company after her brother Ross Pratt’s Sept. 17 heart attack, booking an open casket funeral service for 12 days later Sept. 29. Their contract specified that he would be embalmed, but instead of that service being provided, Ms. Pratt-Williams received a phone call on Sept. 20 alerting her to a problem: the 44-year-old’s body had been stored in a garage and had started to decompose, making an open casket impossible. Making matters worse was the fact that she had visited the funeral home the previous day and had asked to see her brother’s body but had been told that it was not possible. Though the funeral home’s manager, Pamela Miller Dabney, suggested a closed casket and cremation, the family chose to have another funeral home provide the funeral and burial services.

In response to her disappointment and pain, Ms. Pratt-Williams has filed a lawsuit against Carl Miller Funeral Home, charging the business with both negligence and carelessness and depriving them of the ability to have a “peaceful and respectful final goodbye with her brother.” She is citing breach of contract and accusing the funeral home of having purposely lied to her and keeping her from seeing her brother’s body specifically because they had failed in their duty to store her brother’s body properly, in the temperature-controlled environment that represents the standard of care for funeral homes.

If you have suffered similar mistreatment in the face of cemetery fraud or funeral home negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain. Contact us today to set up an appointment and learn more about how we can help.