RIDGEFIELD, NJ (WPIX) – As a beloved grandma’s casket was being lowered into a grave, funeral home employees ordered the casket raised because the wrong body was inside, family members alleged Tuesday as they announced a lawsuit.
Kyung Ja Kim died in November, family said. A family member thought her body didn’t look right, but the funeral director dismissed her concerns, the family said. They were assured everything was OK, but it wasn’t.
“The casket is directed to come up out of the grave,” attorney Michael Maggiano said. “The staffers whisked the casket away in a hearse.”
Family members were stunned. It was only a little while later that they learned what happened. One family member fainted, Maggiano said.
The woman in the casket shared a last name with Kim, but she was around 20 years younger, Maggiano said. Kyung Ja Kim had dentures while the woman in the casket had a full set of teeth. The dentures were found under a pillow in the casket.
Maggiano is representing Kyung Ja Kim’s family in a $50 million lawsuit against the Blackley Funeral Home.
“In the world of caring for the deceased, there are best practices on identifying the body of who you’ve been entrusted,” Maggiano said. “This funeral home has failed in setting up those protocols.”
If they win the suit, the family plans to give the money to two churches Kyung Ja Kim attended, one of her children said.
Kyung Ja Kim had had a stroke 13 years before her death, so Kummi Kim, one of her children, moved in along with her husband Taichul Kim. Kummi Kim was by her mother’s side when she died. She said it was a peaceful death.
“It all got ruined,” she said. “Now when I think about it, it’s horrible.”
WPIX repeatedly reached out to the funeral home on Tuesday. People who picked up the phone there said no one was available to talk.
“We trusted the funeral home, but they violated the trust that was promised to us,” Taichul Kim said.