There is an interesting Long Island case that could be the basis for a lawsuit on the mishandling of a corpse. In spreading her father’s ashes around his favorite places (including on a dinosaur at the Museum of Natural History), Jennie Spooner, from Amityville, found an array of garbage in the urn, including ballpoint-pen springs, glass shards, metal staples and a half-melted crucifix.
Spooner, 52, even found unburned whisks of a dust broom. When she confronted the director of the Joseph Slinger-Hasgill Funeral Home in Amityville, she was told that he might have had the stuff in his pockets. Whisks of a dust broom?
Guidelines for crematoria require the removal of objects before cremation unless instructed otherwise by the family.
She is considering a lawsuit and she probably has a case. Most mishandling cases deal with a corpse as opposed to cremated remains. The mishandling of a corpse “requires a showing of interference with the right of the next-of-kin to dispose of the body,” but includes cases where “one improperly deals with the decedent’s body.” Massaro v. Charles J. O’Shea Funeral Home, Inc., 292 A.D.2d 349, (2nd Dept. 2002). There is also the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim that can be brought in the case.