Protecting your family from a funeral fiasco - AmericaNowNews.com

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Protecting your family from a funeral fiasco

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A recent round of undercover visits to funeral homes conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found more than 20% of these vendors had significant violations. And you won't believe the kind of disturbing mistakes that are being made. Here's what you need to know to protect your family from a funeral fiasco.

News accounts across the country report the disturbing details of mishandled remains, bodies mistakenly cremated - even legs being cut off to fit the body in the coffin.

Jeffrey Zinder is a mortuary malpractice attorney who currently represents the family of Darlene Davidson. He says they were misled into having another woman's body buried in her grave.

"You don't chop to fit without telling the family - that, maybe, the funeral needs to be delayed a day until we can get you the proper-sized casket," says Zinder, "The funeral director had convinced them that because of the disease process that took their loved one's life, as well as the preparation of the body for viewing, that the features had changed."

Even after the family complained during the viewing that the body looked like someone else, the funeral director insisted they were wrong.

"And after they complained, the mortician came into the room and redid the makeup to make the lips look fuller and different. And they were assured that the body was in fact that of Darlene Davidson," says Zinder.

America Now contacted the mortuary several times to get their side of the story, but they did not return our calls or email. So America Now's Asha Blake paid a visit to Mrs. Davidson's husband, Evans to find out how the funeral director was able to convince him that the woman in the casket was in fact his wife of 51 years.

"They really, tell you the truth, never convinced me that was my wife. They tried to," says Evans, "They just insisted that I was wrong. I didn't know my own wife. The kids didn't know their own mother anymore. The grandkids didn't know their grandmother anymore."

"You walked into the room where the casket was and you looked inside. What did you think?", asked Blake.

"They told me that was her," says Evans, "But she had been sick a long time and that's the way it was gonna look. But my granddaughter was also there, and she say, 'Oh, no, no. That's not my grandmother.'"

So the Davidson family went ahead with the funeral. And 150 of Darlene Davidson's family and friends paid their respects to a woman they didn't even know.

Then three days after the funeral, the phone rang. "They gave me a call from the mortuary," says Evans, "Saying that they needed me over there right away because there's a lady over here jumping up and down saying a body was not her mother. And when I got over there they brought a body into the room about five feet away from me, and I said, Oh, that's my wife."

"What did you think," asked Blake.

"I thought I'd have a heart attack," says Evans.

"When a body is given into the care and custody of a funeral director, the body is immediately tagged. So there is a nametag in one, if not two, places on the body. And at the time the body is presented, if you have any question at all about the identity of the loved one, just ask to see the tag," says Zinder.

Zinder also says to research the funeral home or mortuary you're considering by contacting your state's licensing bureau and check to see if there have been any complaints or claims of mishandling. And if there's ever a question about identity, remember – all bodies are tagged.

"There was a dis-internment of the grave of Darlene Davidson," says Zinder, "Her casket was taken out. The casket was opened. And in fact, the decedent's body that was in that casket had tags on that body with the name of the other lady."

Mrs. Davidson was finally laid to rest. And while the memory of her final goodbye is forever tarnished, Mr. Davidson hopes that we can all learn from this terrible mistake so it doesn't happen again.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

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