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The mishandling of human bodies and cremated ashes continues to occur in the funeral industry. Surviving relatives, who are emotionally vulnerable after a loved one has passed away, are understandably not taking it anymore.

My personal experience in Florida has involved the mix-up of two unrelated bodies, lost cremains, failure to refrigerate remains, unconscionable delay in cremation and return of ashes, and erroneous cremation. In every instance relatives experienced emotional trauma instead of peaceful closure. I believe this most recent jury verdict from Ohio demonstrates that jurors appreciate the magnitude of the harm such irresponsible conduct can cause.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Couple awarded $750,000 in cremation mix up

James F. McCarty
Plain Dealer Reporter

A jury in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Friday awarded Tonya Leach and Eddie Squire more than $750,000 in damages for the mishandling of their son’s remains in 2001.

They sued the E.F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home for negligence based on their suspicions that morticians had mixed up the cremated ashes of their stillborn child with other people’s remains.

A pathologist found fragments of teeth and pulverized adult bones mixed with the remnants of the infant returned to the couple in a cardboard box. He also said the couple received far more ashes than he would have expected from the cremation of a 1-pound fetus.

Boyd’s lawyer, George Zucco, told the jury that the funeral home did nothing wrong. He suspects the eight jurors were swayed by sympathy for the parents. The pieces of cremated adults could be attributed to incomplete cleaning of the crematorium, and most of the ashes were from the pine box that held the unborn infant, he said.

“I believe they followed all of the rules and regulations,” Zucco said. “The statute allows for some commingling of ashes.”

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