Lost body, wrong corpse at viewing leads to lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A family who says their deceased relative's body was misplaced and the wrong corpse displayed for a private viewing has sued a funeral company in Ohio.

The lawsuit filed recently in Franklin County Common Pleas Court by members of Nivina Cargill's family was filed against Smoot Funeral Services, which works out of Edwards Funeral Home in Columbus. It seeks more than $25,000 in both compensatory and punitive damages.

A message left Friday at Smoot offices wasn't immediately returned.

The lawsuit says Cargill's family arrived at the funeral home July 1 to find that Cargill's body had been misplaced and another body dressed in her clothes had been substituted.

Family members have "lost sleep and suffered nightmares as a result of the defendants' conduct," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that Smoot's funeral service director, Monique Smoot, tried to persuade the family that the corpse in the casket was Cargill's and didn't acknowledge the mistake until she eventually checked the name tag on the corpse.

Monique Smoot, who is also named as a defendant, didn't immediately return a call Friday. A message also was left at Edwards Funeral Service Inc., which is also named as a defendant.

Cargill's sister, Pamela Merritt, said the family waited five hours for staff to find Cargill's body and prepare it, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

"Our whole concern is, we don't want this to happen to another family," Merritt told the Dispatch on Thursday.

Merritt couldn't be reached for additional comment Friday. A Columbus telephone number listed in that name was no longer in service.

The lawsuit says the 52-year-old Cargill died June 21 of cardiac arrest.

Defendants destroyed the clothing of the late Nina Cargill while attempting to put the clothes on the wrong corpse," the lawsuit states.

Cargill's makeup was applied in a sloppy and haphazard manner, the lawsuit also states.

As a result of the defendants' "negligent, reckless, wanton, willful and/or intentional conduct," the family will continue to suffer "serious and irreparable emotional and psychological distress," according to the lawsuit.