The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff held a press conference at its Manhattan offices on Thursday, April 7, to call for reforms to strengthen the oversight of funeral homes. In attendance were reporters and camera crews of CBS, ABC, and Fox News and the NY Daily News, The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff have represented far too many families in which funeral homes which have either lost the bodies of deceased family members and/or negligently prepared a body for a wake or ceremonial viewing and funeral services.
Our personal injury law firm has brought numerous lawsuits against New York and New Jersey funeral homes and caretakers of bodies on behalf of these grieving families. On at least two occasions, these lawsuits for different families were brought against the same funeral homes. Blasting the repeated and outrageous negligence of many funeral homes, Michael S. Lamonsoff, Esq., the principle of the firm announced to the press a number of proposals aimed at ensuring the fair and respectful treatment of the bodily remains of a grieving family’s deceased loved ones.
The press conference came on the heels of yet another case of funeral home negligence. The firm was retained once again by a grieving family whose loved one’s body was mistakenly cremated and then lost in the tragic aftermath of a series of blunders by two New York-based funeral homes, R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home and First Avenue Funeral Services, and a third New Jersey funeral Home, Biondi Funeral Home.
Now, the two sons of the New Jersey woman whose body was lost are suing all three funeral homes for damages, citing funeral home negligence and the historic right of sepulcher. On March 22, 2016, Consuelo Rivera passed away and her body was taken to Biondi Funeral Home in Nutley, New Jersey to be prepared for burial. Her two sons became upset with their service and asked that she be taken to the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home in Brooklyn instead.
First Avenue Funeral Services was then hired to take the body to R.G. Ortiz in Brooklyn but, unbeknownst to the grieving family, ended up keeping the remains after a delay in transportation led R.G. Ortiz to refuse to accept delivery. The day before her wake was to be held, the shocked family received a call from an employee of First Avenue Funeral Services who said that they had accidentally cremated Consuelo’s body.
In a final shocking twist, upon arriving to pick up the ashes, the family was given the ashes of another woman, and then told the funeral home could not locate Consuelo’s actual remains. “To date, the remains of Consuelo Rivera continue to be missing and a heartbroken and bewildered family is unable to say their final goodbyes,” said Mr. Lamonsoff at the press conference.
The distraught sons also spoke, voicing their heartbreak and frustration at the tragic turn of events. “They stole my last kiss, my last goodbye,” said Emilio tearfully. “What they did … I just want to find my mom. I want to get her back.” Mr. Lamonsoff blasted the funeral homes involved, and called for comprehensive reforms and increased oversight by the New York State Departments of Health and Labor, the entities that license and regulate funeral homes, crematoriums, and their employees.
“They were dismissive, evasive and disrespectful,” said Mr. Lamonsoff. “Our clients have been treated with callousness and disrespect,” he said. “They went to great lengths for their mother to get a proper wake and burial. They never intended for her to be cremated… The remains of Consuelo remain missing, and the heartbroken and bewildered family is unable to say their final goodbyes.”
Mr. Lamonsoff said that the tragic errors in this case are just the tip of the iceberg. “There are innumerable victims that are too distraught to exercise—or just plain unaware— of their civil legal rights against these negligent and indifferent caretakers of their deceased loved ones,” he said.