Funeral home sued for $88M after alleged body mix-up
Copiague, New York — Eleven siblings are suing a Long Island funeral home after, they say, the director put the wrong person in their mother's plot.
They're seeking $88 million, claiming gross negligence.
The family members say they warned the funeral director at Amityville's Joseph A. Slinger-Hasgill Funeral Home but he didn't listen, CBS New York reports.
Two of the siblings told the station they made it very clear that the body they were shown wasn't their mother.
"I said, 'Those aren't my mother's nails. Her burn mark is not on her arm,'" Salimah Lee said.
"When I first walked in, I said, 'That's not Mom.' … He insisted that it was," Lee's brother said.
"I said, 'Mom has a mole.' I just kept picking out different things," Lee said, adding, "And he stood at the top of the steps of the funeral home, laughing, going, 'Oh, I hear that all the time. They tell me. People say that all the time. The embalming fluid smooths them out.'"
Three days later, after the service for 87-year-old Sadie Williams, a phone call from the director proved they were right all along.
"He said, 'I just want you to know that that wasn't your mom,'" Lee recalled.
She says she raced over to the funeral home and recorded a video capturing the moment she finally saw her mom.
"That's my mother. … I just knew it. I said her mole was missing and everything," Lee can be heard saying in the video.
"I'm just sick. I'm sick. … So now I have to let the other family know," the funeral director can be heard saying.
"Every single time I think about it, all I can see is my mother on that cold slab, naked … and he showed no concern when he opened that door and I saw her, just stark naked on the table, just sitting there, like she was waiting for me to find her," Lee said, crying.
What was supposed to be a no more than 72-hour burial because of Muslim tradition turned into 22 days.
"They questioned it and they questioned it and they questioned it, and the funeral director insisted he was right," said Phil Rizzuto, the family's attorney.
CBS New York tried getting a response from the funeral home but was told officials couldn't comment before speaking with lawyers.
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