FORT LEE, N.J. — A family is suing a New Jersey funeral home after they said an error led to the wrong body being placed into the casket and nearly buried.
The family of Kyung Ja Kim said they were laying the 93-year-old to rest, when moments after the casket was lowered into the ground, workers brought it back up, WNBC reported. At that point, the director of the funeral home told the family that the wrong person was inside the casket.
Kim’s family told WABC that they had planned a traditional Korean funeral, but when they opened the casket at the church, they realized something was wrong.
“At the church when she opened the casket, I told them, ‘This is not my mom. She was so much younger looking,’” Kummi Kim, Kyung Ja’s daughter, told WABC.
Kim and other family members initially believed that embalming technology had allowed for the change, and the body was dressed in the traditional Korean clothes the family had provided, USA Today reported. Kim’s family also said that Kyung’s dentures were found under the pillow in the casket.
The woman who was in the casket was later identified to be 20 years younger than Kim, and also had her own teeth, WNBC reported. The lawsuit alleges the other family was never told about the mix-up.
“We are really two victims,” Kummi told WABC. “Not only my mom, but the other victim.”
Kim’s wishes had been for her family, who had traveled from Korea, to attend her funeral, but because of the error the family said they were unable to say goodbye properly, USA Today reported.
“I feel very sad and angry that we couldn’t accomplish her final wish, that she wanted to say bye to us at the church,” Kummi told WNBC.
The Kim family is suing Central Funeral Home of New Jersey and Blackley Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc., saying they failed to follow procedures to make sure bodies are identified properly, WNBC reported. The lawsuit seeks $50 million in damages.
Kim’s family told WABC that any money won in the lawsuit will be donated to Kyung’s church in her honor.
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