Funeral Was Stuff of Nightmares, Family Says

     COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) – After misplacing a woman’s corpse before her funeral, an Ohio mortuary tried to make a grieving family bury someone else, they claim in court.
     The complaint filed Monday in Franklin County Court describes a funeral dreamed up by Murphy’s Law, where everything that could have gone wrong did.
     After Nivina Cargill died of a sudden heart attack this past June, her family says they arranged for Smoot Funeral Services LLC and its funeral director, Monique Smoot, to put the woman to rest.
     Edwards Funeral Services shares space with Smoot, according to the complaint, and is named as a defendant to the action. Indeed, one member of Smoot’s staff said “Edwards had ‘sabotaged'” their business, according to the complaint.
     The defendants received about $10,000 for their services but botched Cargill’s funeral so badly that her family has “suffered nightmares” among other “psychological injuries,” the complaint states.
     Things got off to a bad start when the family arrived at the funeral home and “discovered defendants had misplaced the body of the late Nivina Cargill and substituted another corpse,” dressing that corpse in Cargill’s clothing and placing Cargill in the wrong casket, according to the complaint.
     “Monique Smoot attempted to persuade [the family] that the corpse was the Nivina Cargill,” although it was obviously not her,” the family claims.
     Though initially resistant, Smoot “eventually checked the name-tag on the corpse and conceded that the corpse was not the late Nivina Cargill,” according to the complaint.
     It took Smoot five hours to locate Cargill, but the woman had been “negligently embalm[ed] …, rendering her almost unrecognizable,” the family says.
     Smoot personally handled putting make-up on Cargill, but her work “was sloppy and haphazard,” according to the complaint.
     Furthermore Cargill’s clothes had been ruined when dressed on the wrong corpse, and her limbs were positioned unnaturally in the casket, the family says.
     Cargill’s family had also provided more than 170 photographs for “a dignified slideshow, [but the] defendants only showed ten to fifteen photographs,” according to the complaint.
     Smoot also “inappropriately and disrespectfully displayed” a memorial rug, gave the family just 30 minutes to grieve instead of the several hours they were promised, the family says.
     Cargill’s mother Shirley Williams is the lead plaintiff in the action, joined by Cargill’s sister and her five children. The family seeks punitive damages fro abuse and interference of a corpse, negligence, fraud and other claims.
     They are represented by attorney Benjamin Wright.

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