Helping Families who Suffered from Morgue Negligence

February 23, 2017

By Albro L. Lundy III

The Intersection of my Personal and Professional Experience

When you are an attorney, your clients don’t often call you with good news in their lives. Usually someone is calling because they are facing a difficulty, sometimes a very big one in their life. And sometimes, they call because they know you have faced or dealt with a similar difficulty.

It has been that way in my life. My father, USAF Major Albro L. Lundy Jr., was lost in the Vietnam Conflict in 1970, flying search and rescue over Laos. My family had been told that he was dead, actually Killed In Action, Body Not Recovered. For years that is what we believed until information started to surface in 1990 that he might have survived the incident. The story of the search for him is too long to tell here, and could actually take a book to tell. In many ways what I learned along the way has impacted my career as an attorney.

While searching for my father, I learned more than I ever wanted to about human remains and using DNA testing and dental records to prove identity. I also learned the high value placed on returning a body with dignity to a family and treating it with honor. The US government spends millions of dollars and many servicemen and women have given their lives to bring back a body to a grieving family.

It was this experience of mine, this experience with remains and identification, that led a good friend to refer one of their newly widowed friends to me. She had received a knock on the door late at night from the crematorium where she thought her husband had been cremated a few weeks before. They asked her to identify pictures of a body that they thought was her husband – since they realized they had cremated the wrong body. The ashes she thought were his were sitting on the mantle close by. Shocked and horrified, she needed to seek and discover the truth of what happened to her late husband, and receive justice for the dishonor to her husband’s body as well as the traumatic shock that the news and pictures of her partially decomposed husband had caused her. She could not identify him through the photos and needed to find alternate means to identify his remains through intra-oral photographs and dental record comparisons. Many times the bodies that came home from Vietnam had only the dental records to make identifications as well. After helping her confirm the identity and finally honor her late husband’s wishes, we were able to help her also receive a significant settlement for the emotional harm and trauma she suffered through this mistake.

This experience has given me the training, education and skill to assist other families in need when they have experienced negligence by a mortuary, crematorium or morgue. Our law firm has helped families presented with the wrong ashes, missing bodies, and identification of bodies. This is something we hope no family even needs to go through. But if you suspect something unusual has happened to the body of your loved one, know that there can be help and legal remedies. Our culture places a high value on the dignified treatment of a body after death and allowing it to rest in peace. Our law firm stands ready to help families with this sad and difficult part of life when needed.

Please Note: This document does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal advice on what to do in a particular situation.