The manager explained that there was confusion. In a lawsuit filed against the funeral home on Monday, the family said the funeral home had placed the body of another woman with the same last name in her mother’s coffin, complete with the mother’s clothes and dentures.
Kim’s three children and son-in-law allege in the lawsuit that Central Funeral Home of New Jersey, which operates the Blackley Funeral Home in Ridgefield, New Jersey, Careless and careless, she placed the wrong body in her mother’s coffin in November, exacerbating their grief and emotional distress.
Michael Magiano, the family’s attorney, said one of her daughters, Komi Kim, fainted instantly when the casket was pulled from the ground.
“Mrs. Kim was a very religious woman,” said Maggiano. “She wanted her death to be celebrated at the Church of the Promise in Leonia, New Jersey, and that didn’t happen—in the casket there was another woman like her funeral home to be a mother.”
Representatives at Blackley and Central’s funerals told The Washington Post Wednesday morning that they would be sending requests for comment to the administration, but there was no response by mid-afternoon. No corporate attorney information is included in court records.
When Kyung Ja Kim, 93, died at her daughter Kumi’s home in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Kumi Kim called the funeral home in nearby Ridgefield — where 30 percent of the population is of Korean descent, according to the Census Bureau. – Hoping to arrange a funeral and burial according to Korean tradition, according to the lawsuit.
Funeral director Haemin Gina Chong arranged for the body to be picked up and met with the family the next day to discuss how Kim would be dressed and presented at the open casket funeral.
But when the casket arrived for the funeral two days later at Promes Church in Leonia – where Kim had long attended and requested that her funeral take place – the casket contained the body of Waja Kim, another woman who was being held at the funeral home but who the lawsuit says was not related to the family.
When Komi Kim had the opportunity to see her mother’s body shortly before the funeral, she told Chung that the body did not appear to be her mother’s, according to the suit. Chung responded with “a very clear expression of denial and dismay,” leading Kim to justify that the embalming and cosmetic surgery must have changed the body’s appearance.
“They made it and led the family to believe, ‘This is the mother, she looks a little different while she’s dead,’” Magiano said. “So the family thought, ‘Okay, okay, we’re not sure this is my mom, but you’re the experts, so we’re going to trust you.'”
The funeral proceeded as planned, and the casket was placed in a niche to travel to a cemetery in Valhalla, New York. The family later learned that during the funeral, Chung called and texted Waja Kim’s daughter about her “mother’s identification features,” and the lawsuit said the daughter had sent several photos.
As the motorcade traveled to the cemetery, Chung called Kumi Kim and told her that if she wasn’t sure the body was her mother, they should “turn over all the cars” without explaining further, according to the lawsuit. He told Kim Chung in confusion that they should go ahead with the burial.
Thirty minutes after the grave service, Chung pulled a picture on her phone of a dead body that had been at the funeral home and showed it to Kim. Kim said it was her mother.
Without explanation, the lawsuit said, Chung ordered cemetery workers to remove the casket from the grave “while the family members looked on in astonishment.” Chung later met the family and told them that Waja Kim’s body was dressed in their mother’s clothes, then presented at the funeral and burial.
Chung later admitted to the family that the funeral home put their mother’s dentures under a pillow under Waja Kim’s body, even though Waja Kim has a full set of teeth, according to the prosthesis.
Chung arranged an urgent funeral with the right body the next day, but it could not be held in their mother’s church because it was used for Sunday mass. The lawsuit said several family members had already left because they were unable to change their travel plans.
The family said in the lawsuit that the mistake violated the family’s contract with the funeral home and failed to honor the Korean burial tradition and their mother’s wishes for a funeral at her church in her home. They also said that the funeral home had many opportunities to discover the error and instead ignored “clear evidence of body confusion” until the wrong body was actually in their mother’s grave.
Magiano said Chung told the family that the employees who retrieved Kim’s body did not put identification on it, which goes against best practices in the industry. The funeral home offered to return the $9,000 the family had paid in fees, but later cashed the check anyway, according to an amended complaint filed on Wednesday.
“My mother lived a long life, and she wanted her funeral to be a celebration,” Kumi Kim said at a press conference on Monday. New Jersey Advance Media. “Her last wish was for everything to be in the church, the right way. So I feel very guilty that we couldn’t fulfill her final wish.”
According to local news reports, families in Houston; Charlotte; Waco, Tex.; Columbus, Ohio; Pontiac, Michigan.; Ahuski, North Carolina; And the Fresno, California.In the past two years, they have discovered the wrong bodies in the coffins of their loved ones. In November, CBS New York One family reported that a Long Island funeral home was sued for $88 million after they said the funeral director ignored their suggestions that the wrong body was in their mother’s coffin even after it was buried.
Magiano said the Kim family is not looking for financial gain and will donate any money they receive from the lawsuit to two important churches for their mother.
They don’t want a dollar out of this,” Magiano said. “They’re doing it for their mother, and that’s what the mother wanted.”
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