ZK Results – Attorney John W. Zotter Obtains Dismissal of Funeral Director From Lawsuit Arising Out of Improper Burial
In a lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, it was alleged that the Plaintiff’s deceased husband was buried in the wrong burial plot and then moved to a different plot without her knowledge or consent. The Plaintiff further alleged that the proper procedures to disinter and reinter a body were not followed because no court order was issued permitting the transfer in the absence of consent. Suit was filed against the cemetery, a funeral home, and a funeral director who signed a state issued permit for disinterment and/or reinterment. In the lawsuit, the Plaintiff set forth claims for tortious inference with a dead body, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. The cemetery acknowledged that it buried the deceased in the wrong plot. When this error was brought to the attention of the cemetery by the family that owned the plot, the cemetery could not locate the next of kin of the deceased in order to obtain consent to transfer. Facing pressure from the rightful owner of the plot to transfer the mistakenly buried deceased, the owner of the cemetery sought assistance from a local funeral director who was not involved in the initial burial of the Plaintiff’s deceased husband. After consulting with a state agency, the funeral director signed the permit for disinterment and/or reinterment believing that he was permitted to do so under the circumstances. In response to the lawsuit, all Defendants filed Preliminary Objections and argued that the torts alleged by the Plaintiff require outrageous or wanton conduct and the facts alleged in the Complaint, if proven, would amount to nothing more than negligence. The trial court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. This case is currently on appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Zimmer Kunz Shareholder, John W. Zotter, represents the funeral director in the lawsuit.