Mishandling of Corpses: Your Right to Sue

Corpse 002 ripThe death of a loved one is by far one of the saddest and
toughest experiences that we will ever go through.

When a loved one passes, his or her body deserves to be treated with love, respect and dignity.  They deserve to rest in peace.

We expect that a funeral home, funeral directors, creamatoria and all of their staff members are going to care for our departed loved ones with the utmost sensitivity and care.

We don’t expect them to add to our grief and emotional pain by mishandling the remains of our loved
ones and causing emotional distress to those of us left behind.

What Is Emotional
Distress?

Emotional distress includes suffering, anguish, fright,
horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame.
Serious emotional distress exists if an ordinary, reasonable person would be
unable to cope with it. (California Civil Jury Instruction 1620)

Your Special
Relationship With The Mortuary

When a mortuary agrees to provide funeral services and
burial or cremation of our loved one, a special
relationship
is created between that mortuary and the close relatives of
the person that has passed.  That special
relationship creates a duty on the mortuary to perform the funeral-related “services
in a dignified and respectful manner that the bereaved expect of mortuary and
crematory operators.”

There was a case back in 1991 which was heard and decided by the
California Supreme Court entitled Christensen
vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles
(click here to read the case).  Basically, from 1980-1987 several mortuaries
and crematoria desecrated the human remains of some 16,500 bodies entrusted to
them by the bereaved families. 

And what did these mortuaries and crematoria do to these
bodies?  These were your worst nightmares
come true.

  1. Pulled the gold from the decedents’ teeth with
    pliers. This heinous act is known as “popping chops” or “making the pliers sing”
    throughout the industry.
  2. Removed and sold hearts, eyes, corneas, brains
    and other body parts and sold them to companies for commercial distribution.
  3. Cremated the bodies of numerous decedents
    together and placed the remains in 55 gallon oil drums from which they were
    distributed to the bereaved families

The court ruled that If the mortuary and crematory staff
mishandle the remains of our loved ones, then they have breached their duty of
care and are liable to the close family members for the emotional distress that
they create by their acts.

Mishandling of the remains of loved ones continues today

You and your family may be able
to sue the mortuary, funeral director, crematorium, etc., for emotional
distress should the remains of your loved one be mishandled by those to whom
you have entrusted them.  Examples:

  1. Improper
    embalming: Techniques that cause premature decomposition of the body,
    especially when the body of your loved one is going to be presented in an
    open-casket funeral
  2. Not
    properly refrigerating the body immediately following death but before embalming
    can lead to rapid decomposition
  3. Commingling
    of ashes: putting several bodies in the same crematorium during the same burn
    cycle, undermining the respect due your loved one
  4. Selling
    body parts
  5. Not
    disposing of the body in a manner authorized by you

Read the National Funeral Director Association's Code of

Professional Conduct and Enforcement Procedures

Honoring Your Loved One's Memory

If you believe that the remains of a deceased family member have been mishandled the please contact me for a free consultation.  I'm a California Personal Injury lawyer and I'm here for you.

Call me 002

(877) 487-8221

Email me now 001lowell@steigerlaw.com

LS 2012

All Consultations Are Free