Latest News 2012 April Staples Over Chest Instead of Tattoo = Wrong Family Member at Viewing

Staples Over Chest Instead of Tattoo = Wrong Family Member at Viewing

The Tribune Democrat has reported that the family of a recently deceased man, whose body never left the hospital and another was presented at the viewing, has filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the hospital and the funeral home seeking over $50,000 in damages.

The family of R.T. has named the Harris Funeral Home and the Memorial Medical Center for their failure in providing the correct body and not discovering their error until the scheduled public viewing.

The suit has been filed on behalf of R.T.’s widow, a resident of Geistown, and two children, residents of Johnstown and New Florence. Pittsburgh-based attorney, Kevin Lomupo, is representing the family.

Compensation, unspecified but over $50,000, is sought for the family’s emotional distress, depression and humiliation.

The owner of the Harris Funeral Home, W.G.H., commented, “In the 40 years as a licensed funeral director and 31 years of owning my own funeral home, this is the first time I have encountered this situation. The fact, or any faults, pertaining to this case will come out in time. I will only say now that no one was wrongly buried or cremated, and the family incurred no costs. I think the good people of this community know me and the reputation of my firm.”

The suit states, that after R.T.’s death, in the hospital on November 23, the family made arrangements with Harris Funeral Home. There was to be a visitation on November 25 and the funeral mass and burial on November 26.

On November 24 the family brought clothes to the funeral home for R.T. to wear – but, according to the suit, did not see him at that time.

The following day, at the scheduled viewing, they saw the body and discovered it was not R.T. The suit contends, “The (family) told (W.G.H.) that the body they were viewing was not that of the decedent. (The funeral home) argued that it was the correct decedent.”

In trying to help the funeral home identify their loved one properly, the family described a tattoo T.T. had on one of his upper arms. Representatives from the home removed the clothing from the upper torso of the deceased and instead of finding a tattoo – the man had staples in his chest indicating a possible heart surgery.

The viewing was cancelled and, according to Lomupo, the family started their “frantic search to determine the whereabouts of the decedent. Members of the family called and went to other funeral homes in the area. Crematoriums also were contacted. After some length of time and after the viewing was canceled, the body of the decedent was discovered still at … (the Medical Center).”

A viewing was held, but only a brief one, the next day.

The executive director of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, John Eirksok, said, “These are unusual circumstances. There may have been multiple deaths, and sometimes people are not identified properly. Normally there is some form of ID on the body – wristband or ankle band. But mistakes happen.”

If you have been hurt by the actions of another person you have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit. You can work to recover your losses when you contact a personal injury lawyer to get started on your case.