Lawsuit: NJ funeral home let body decompose, claiming COVID death
A Camden funeral home is fighting two lawsuits accusing the business of negligence, breach of contract and fraud stemming from separate clients in July.
The most recent complaint filed Tuesday accuses Boyd Funeral Home of mishandling the body of a woman after her death and of lying about being unable to embalm or properly handle her remains due to her death being caused by COVID-19.
According to the lawsuit, the funeral home allowed the woman’s face to decompose, which meant her family never got to see her a final time while also forcing a closed-casket service nearly two weeks later.
The lawsuit filed by Carlton Randells and James Whitaker, husband and son of the deceased woman, said Theresa Randells died on July 18 after being “in the hospital on a respirator for a significant time.”
Due to hospital COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the last time either of them saw Randells in person was February, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to Boyd Funeral Home, its Executive director, Asia Atkins, is listed as a defendant.
The complaint says a death certificate dated July 29 lists “cardiopulmonary failure” as cause of death even though Atkins had told them that Randells had died of coronavirus.
The lawsuit also said that after Theresa Randells was buried, her son spoke with “at least one other local funeral home official” who confirmed that restrictions Whitaker and his stepfather said they were given by Atkins were unfounded despite state pandemic directives.
The other lawsuit, filed in July by Maxine Pritchett, accuses Boyd Funeral Home of requiring the grieving mother “to pay a ransom for her to simply lay her son to rest.”
According to that complaint, Pritchett’s 17-year-old son, Jaheem Jumar Plummer, died after a car crash in June.
The lawsuit said after initially allowing Boyd Funeral Home to transfer Plummer’s body to their facility, three days later Pritchett became “dissatisfied by what she perceived as a lack of professionalism from Boyd,” and requested that her son’s body be transferred to a different Camden funeral home.
The lawsuit said that Pritchett had to pay $2,700 for embalming and other burial preparation services she did not request and did not authorize before they were carried out on her son’s remains.
An attorney for the funeral home declined to comment Thursday.