Recently, a personal injury case in Florida made headlines when a lawsuit was not allowed to go forward. A family had filed a lawsuit against a local funeral home for losing the remains of their baby. This case went before the local Court of Appeal, which called the case troubling and heartrending; however, the case did not rise to an appropriate level that would have allowed it to move forward. In the eyes of many, this case shows that changes need to be made in the world of personal injury law. In this arena, there isn’t a way for the case to move forward without evidence of physical injury. Given that the baby had already passed away, the court did not allow it to proceed.
A couple sued this funeral home back in 2016 for conduct that they labeled negligence and egregious misconduct. According to mattsharplaw.com, personal injury cases can leave the injured party “facing significant medical bills, lost wages, emotional challenges, and a loss of quality of life.” The couple, in this case, was seeking damages for emotional distress. The couple had given birth to a baby that was stillborn. The couple wanted to have a funeral for their stillborn child and contacted this funeral home for help. The funeral home agreed to cremate the body; however, they lost track of the remains and lost the ashes. Because the plaintiffs in this case, the parents, did not suffer any physical impact, the case would not be allowed to proceed. The courts ruled that the conduct of the funeral home wasn’t egregious enough to warrant an exception under the law even though the funeral home deviated from the industry’s best practices.
To support its ruling, the court system looked at a case that was filed about 25 years ago. In this case, parents brought suit against a funeral home when they found that the blood from a baby was found in a refrigerated drawer months after the baby was already buried. The state court also did not allow this case to move forward because the parents did not suffer any physical impact stemming from the conduct. The court also stated in this case that not every wrong should be compensated through the court system.
This case serves to highlight some of the issues with personal injury law. There are limits to what litigation can accomplish. These parents suffered a tremendous amount of heartbreak when they realized they would not be able to bury the remains of their stillborn child. It will be interesting to see if action is taken to correct this wrong.