MEDIA – A settlement has been reached between a woman and a Delaware County funeral home, which she sued over allegations that her son was cremated before she had the opportunity to see him a final time.
On Nov. 7, counsel for plaintiff Sandra Groome filed a praecipe to settle, discontinue and end the instant litigation with prejudice. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Groome, of Clifton Heights, initially filed suit on June 3 in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas versus O’Leary Funeral Home, LTD, of Springfield Township.
According to the complaint, the defendant provided funeral services to the plaintiff for her deceased son, John Norton, in June 2017. Groome alleged she and the defendant agreed not to perform cremation until a mutually agreed-upon time.
She alleged the defendant carried out the cremation prematurely without her knowledge or consent, in effect not allowing her to say her last goodbye to her son or have appropriate closure. As a result, Groome said she suffered sleeplessness, loss of appetite, nervousness, anxiety, depression, grief, fatigue and other emotional and physical damages.
Groome added the funeral home acknowledged their inappropriate and negligent conduct by refunding her all the money she paid for her son’s funeral services.
However, the funeral home’s version of the events contrasts significantly with that of the plaintiff.
On Oct. 9, the funeral home responded to Groome’s complaint, explaining its decision to cremate her son’s body as necessary and that “it would have been inappropriate and unprofessional to fail to do so” since the body “had become badly decomposed and it would have been inappropriate for defendant to allow anyone to see the corpse prior to cremation.”
The funeral home also confirmed it did return Groome’s service fees, but that rather than it being an admission of negligent conduct, it claimed that the action was “a heartfelt, compassionate gesture for a mother who had just lost her son.” Further, it denied negligently inflicting emotional distress on Groome, as she did not view her son’s decomposed body.
Prior to settlement and for a count of negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff was seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The plaintiff was represented by Gregory P. Dipippo of Bello Reilley McGrory & Dipippo, in King of Prussia.
The defendant was represented by Joseph P. Connor III of Connor Weber & Oberlies, in Paoli.
Delaware County Court of Common Pleas case CV-2019-004803
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org