Funerals are emotional undertakings. They can be made much worse if the funeral home behaves negligently. Unfortunately, as funeral negligence lawyers, we see these cases all too often.
Funeral Home Displays Wrong Baby at Funeral
The team at the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato recently handled a case involving grieving parents who were unable to say goodbye to their stillborn child due to the negligence of the funeral home they trusted. The parents decided to hold their baby’s funeral at McWhite’s Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Per the parents’ desires, the casket was to be open for a viewing. Before the funeral began, they discovered the casket was not open as discussed. Mr. McWhite opened the case with some reluctance.
The grieving parents found, to their horror, that the baby in the casket was not their baby girl. When the parents brought up their concerns, Mr. McWhite told the parents that the baby’s appearance was due to the embalming process. The parents then buried this baby, thinking it was their child.
Days later, they received a “Disinterment Order” and learned the horrible truth—the baby they buried was not theirs. The funeral home had mishandled the remains and switched their baby with another family’s.
As if this injustice was not enough, once the funeral home located their baby, they found that she had not been embalmed; instead, she was just wrapped in plastic. The parents decided they needed to have a funeral the next day. When they arrived at the funeral home the next day for the funeral, they found that the funeral home had already sealed their daughter’s body — still wrapped in plastic — in the coffin and refused to reopen it.
The funeral home finally agreed to reopen the casket and allowed the parents to dress their baby and say their final goodbyes. The parents contacted us that same month. We were able to prove the funeral home acted negligently and then lied to cover up their negligence. The funeral home settled for $500,000, the full amount of its insurance policy. The settlement included both compensatory and punitive damages.
Coral Springs Funeral Home Cremates Body Before Scheduled Viewing
A South Florida family filed a lawsuit for emotional distress in January 2019 after a Coral Springs funeral home mistakenly cremated their loved one’s body before the scheduled viewing. The family planned to have a viewing for their loved one in September for friends and family. However, the day before the viewing, the deceased’s husband received a call that his wife’s remains had been mistakenly cremated.
Because the remains had been cremated early, the family was not able to say their final goodbyes to their loved one.
While the family was able to receive their loved one’s ashes, the original act of cremating the body early has left the family unsure as to whether the ashes truly belong to their loved one. The family hopes to take the case to trial and is requesting over $15,000 in damages.
Lauderdale Lakes Funeral Home Buries Wrong Newborn Baby
In 2014, a devastated family sued a Lauderdale Lakes funeral home after discovering it buried another baby in their child’s burial spot. In addition to mishandling the remains, workers at the funeral home also allegedly said the family needed to “speed up” the funeral service before swapping out the caskets.
Two weeks later, the father was asked to identify his child and learned of the mistake. The parents sued the funeral home for “conduct [that] is so outrageous in character and so extreme that it goes beyond all bounds of decency in a civilized society.” They also claimed “tortuous interference with a dead body, reckless infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.”
South Florida Funeral Home Sends Wrong Body Overseas
A South Florida family sued a Miami funeral home for several mix-ups involving the body of their deceased son. First, the funeral home sent the wrong body to Cuba, where the funeral was to be held. When the parents alerted the funeral home, they were told they would receive their son’s body the next day. This never happened. Instead, the funeral home admitted it accidentally cremated the body.
The family requested the ashes, only to find that the funeral home had given the son’s ashes to the wrong family who, believing them to be their loved one’s, scattered them at sea.
This funeral home had a history of mishandling remains and even of holding a body hostage.
Examples of Funeral Home Negligence
There are several ways in which a funeral home can be negligent, including:
- Not embalming a body or incorrectly embalming a body
- Mishandling cremation (e.g., cremating the incorrect body, cremating the body too early, cremating a body meant to be buried)
- Misplacing a body, displaying the wrong body at the funeral, burying the wrong body, not following specific instructions regarding a body
Regardless of the type of negligence a funeral home showed you and your family, we can help.
The Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato Is Here for You
We trust funeral homes to help us through arguably the most difficult time in our lives. While cases like these should never happen, they do. If it does happen to you, know that you are not alone. Our entire team stands with you and will fight tooth and nail to get justice for your loved one.
Call us whenever you are ready: 954-633-8270. We are standing by to help 24/7. We know nothing will ever make what happened right, but our team wants to help you in whatever way we can.