Now this would make for an interesting bailment and negligence case in North Carolina. Robert Comito, a former gunner on a B17, wanted to have his ashes sprinkled in the skies. His family gave the ashes to the Collings Foundation, which agreed to perform the aerial distribution of Comito. Later, however, sheriff deputies found a crater with Comito’s ashes in a box that was thrown from the plane without opening it.
Collings Foundation is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to aviation history:
The purpose of the Collings Foundation is to organize and support “living history” events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. The original focus of the Foundation was transportation-related events such as antique car rallies, hill climbs, carriage and sleight rides, along with a winter ice-cutting festival in Stow, MA areas. During the mi-eighties, these activities were broadened to include aviation-related events such as air shows, barnstorming, historical reunions, Wings of Freedom Tour, Vietnam Memorial Flights, and joint museum displays.
The foundation insists that it did not know the box was plastic as opposed to cardboard. However, I would be a bit worried about tossing out a cardboard box without opening it.
Families have sued after learning that ashes were not distributed as requested, here. I do find it strange that family members are not present for such events to guarantee proper disposal and to witness the person’s final “resting place.”
Other families have sued for the accidental spillage for ashes, here.
Even thieves have been accused of mishandling ashes, here.
In our Thanksgiving torts we have one such potential lawsuit, here.
As for Comito, it represented his last bombing run. His family is going to ensure his correct distribution. The foundation is incredibly fortunate that no one was hit by the box. However, there may be a possibility for a lawsuit by the family for negligence, bailment, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. There might even be an attempt at showing an ultrahazardous activity to apply strict liability.