Funeral homes provide a unique and invaluable service. They shoulder the responsibility of providing grieving families with closure as they say goodbye to their loved ones. The level of care and sensitivity that’s needed at such an emotional time means that funeral home employees and management have to be meticulous in their attention to detail. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Funeral homes are all too often either fraudulent in their business practices or negligent in their treatment and storage of the deceased’s body. When that happens, surviving family members and heirs may be able to take legal action.
A shocking example of funeral home negligence was recently relayed on the national news. A New Jersey family is seeking $50 million in damages from the funeral home that they entrusted with burying their elderly mother.
According to Kummi Kim, her 93-year-old mother Kyung Ja Kim died on November 10th and the family made arrangements with Central Funeral Home of New Jersey and Blackley Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc., for her burial. When the family gathered on November 13th at the Promise Church and looked in the open casket, they expressed concern that the body did not resemble their mother. According to the lawsuit, rather than admit to the problem or investigating, the funeral director “responded with a very clear expression of denial and dismay.” However, after the service was completed and the casket was lowered into the ground, the director confessed that the wrong body – that of another woman whose last name was also Kim — was in the casket.
There were many alarming details that demonstrated the funeral home’s negligence and added to the family’s pain: The other woman in the casket was dressed in Kummi Kim’s mother’s clothing, and her mother’s dentures were even placed in the casket with the wrong body. The family was forced to have their mother buried a day later in what they called a “makeshift funeral” and was denied their ability to fulfill their mother’s “final wish” that her life would be celebrated at a Sunday Mass.
The family’s lawsuit is seeking compensation for having “suffered great shock, emotional distress and psychological pain and hurt upon learning that the passing of their mother was not properly celebrated but that the body of a stranger was wearing the decedent’s clothing and personal effects and placed in her coffin in error.” Faced with their gross error, the funeral home apologized and offered a refund of the $9,000 they charged for the service.
The pain caused by funeral home negligence is profound. If you have been a victim of this type of disregard, our experienced attorneys can help. Contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.