Arizona Family Sues Over Funeral Burial Mishap

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					Legal Daily News Feature


Arizona Family Sues Over Funeral Burial Mishap
By Christine Cristiano


In a bizarre twist of fate, grief stricken relatives of Robert Gowdy Sr. of Phoenix are suing the city of Mesa, the funeral home, cemetery
workers and the casket company for a mishap that occurred during his funeral on May 10, 2008 at a city cemetery. According to the
lawsuit initially filed on April 24th by Gowdy’s wife, children and relatives, the casket lowering device snapped causing the casket to fall
to the ground and break open when the casket was being lowered. The mortified family watched as the cemetery workers fled.




                              12/01/09                                   James Fritz, City Attorney, stated that the sharp edges on
                                                                         the casket caused the straps to break and that the city is not
                             According to the lawsuit, “the              liable.
                             broken strap caused the casket to
                             slide head-first at an angle into the       According to a statement, Fritz commented that “our
grave, hit the side of the vault, and come to rest in the grave          contention is that we didn’t do anything wrong. The edge of
at approximately a 45-degree angle. The impact of the casket             casket was actually very sharp and cut the strap (lowering the
into the side of the vault caused the casket lid to disconnect           casket). There are other incidents around the Valley similar to
and exposed Robert Sr.’s body to the entire assembly.”                   this one.”


The Gowdy family had purchased a solid wood casket from the              Unfortunately, the funeral director could not be reached for
Preston Funeral Home in Phoenix. Upon choosing a particular              comment regarding the mishap.
model, the funeral director, Rev. James Preston informed them
that the model was not available but offered to upgrade their            A second burial was held for Gowdy by his family six days
selection to a better one.                                               after his original burial. Gowdy’s wife, Roxanne was ‘mortified’
                                                                         upon viewing her husband prior to his second burial when she
According to the lawsuit, two family members were                        saw that he was dressed in a black pinstripe suit, blue shirt
unsuccessful in their attempt to lift the casket when the                and brown tie; clothing that he would never had worn when he
bottom of casket dropped out and Gowdy’s body slid out of the            was alive. Gowdy’s original burial outfit had been soiled during
casket and into the bottom of the grave. When the casket was             the first mishap and the funeral home had redressed him for
broken it was revealed that the casket was constructed out of            the second burial. In the lawsuit, Gowdy’s daughter, Robyn,
particle board that was strapped together. Gowdy’s body was              claims that a friendship bracelet that she had given her father
lifted out of the grave and placed on the ground at which point          was missing also.
“the body was lifted by its arms and legs and carried into the
hearse.” The funeral home denied that the body actually slid             City employees, Rick Fifield and Darrell Forrest are named
out of the casket.                                                       in the lawsuit along with the Aurora Casket Company and
                                                                         Frigid Fluid Company, the manufacturer of the casket lowering
                                                                         device.




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Description: In a bizarre twist of fate, grief stricken relatives of Robert Gowdy Sr. of Phoenix are suing the city of Mesa, the funeral home, cemetery workers and the casket company for a mishap that occurred during his funeral on May 10, 2008 at a city cemetery.
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