Suit: Untimely cremation should net us $3.5M

by Jason Barney on August 17, 2008

Or, so says a family’s suit against a funeral home and crematorium.  It never ceases to crack me up how some people can take a modest, legitimate claim and blow it up into a claim for financial independence.

53-year-old Pamela Grant died unattended, was autopsied and later cremated despite a fax by the funeral home to the crematorium instructing it to hold off.  You see, the family says they wanted to view the body before cremation and place mementos with it.  They were deprived of that chance and filed suit against the funeral home for $3M and the crematorium for $450K.

Now, there’s certainly a legitimate complaint here but I see little to justify the sky-high demand.  Naturally, the plaintiffs’ attorney is high-minded saying “his clients sued because they wanted to send a message to the businesses that their behavior was unacceptable.”  Translation: it’s not about the money.

The jury got it right, awarding $48K from the crematorium to the Grant children and nothing from the funeral home.  That’s a far cry from the $3.5M demand and right in line with what the crematorium’s defense counsel suggested to the jury.  (“Missed goodbye to cost crematory, not Oregon City funeral home”, OregonLive.com, Aug. 15).

I’ve finished my week as guest blogger and will pass the torch back to Walter Olson.  Walter, thank you again for the opportunity here on Overlawyered.

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{ 3 comments }

1 Benjamin Cooper 08.17.08 at 6:36 pm

I think the $3.5M ad damnum is basically the result of cut-n-paste pleading and the desire to ensure that a friendly jury (which wasn’t here) won’t be limited by the pleadings.

Other than the fact that the media doesn’t realize that most cases never receive more than 10% of the ad damnum’s value, and the fact that (in this case) it could have been fraudulently alleging federal jurisdiction if there was diversity, I don’t know how objectionable the practice is.

2 Ted Frank 08.18.08 at 8:10 am

This wasn’t simply cut-and-paste ad damnum, according to story: it was a request actually verbally made to a jury.

3 Matthews Cremation Equipment 10.07.08 at 9:12 am

I agree with Cooper, I 100% believe the $3.5 million ad is basically the result of cut-n-paste pleading

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