Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Siblings Sue New York Funeral Home for Giving Father’s Ashes to Another Family

Lake Ronkonkoma Moloney Funeral Home

Two Indian American siblings have filed a lawsuit against a New York-based funeral home for mixing up the ashes of two people, following which their deceased father’s ashes were given to members of some other family, who then immersed them in Ganga river in India.

Susan and Sunil, the adult children of late Sarup Sharma, filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court on Aug. 13, saying that the Long Island-based Lake Ronkonkoma Moloney Funeral Home accidentally mixed up the remains of their father with another deceased man of same last name, the New York Post reported.

Calling this mix-up “reckless and negligent,” the lawsuit said that the children of Sarup Sharma had to go through “mental anguish” as this mistake on the part of funeral home deprived them of “solace and comfort” and “the right to dispose of their father’s remains as they choose,” the report added.

Sarup Sharma died on Feb. 3, 2017 at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, according to the lawsuit, Newsday reported. The family children hired Moloney Family Funeral Homes for the funeral and cremation services, and for safekeeping of their father’s ashes until they could travel to India.

Funeral home officials did not explain to the brother and sister how the mistake occurred, the report cited Oscar Michelen of Mineola, the family’s attorney, as saying.

In September 2017, the funeral home gave the ashes of Sarup Sharma to a different grieving family, which was seeking the remains of its deceased member named Shashi Sharma. After getting the ashes, the family traveled to India and immersed them in Ganga.

The mistake came to the light after Sarup’s children contacted the funeral home and told them about their planned trip to India. Moloney officials informed them in November 2017 that the ashes were mistakenly given to a wrong family.

Shashi’s family got his ashes and traveled to India once again to immerse them in Ganga, while the siblings were deprived of their father’s remains.

The funeral home apologized to the grieving families for the emotional trouble caused to them and assured them that they are committed to prevent any such happening in future.

“Once we learned of the situation, we immediately reached out to both families to express our remorse and assure them of our full cooperation during this difficult time,” Katherine Heaviside, the funeral home’s spokesperson said, the publication reported. “We have reviewed all of our procedures and have taken steps to further strengthen our protocols to ensure that we maintain the full trust and confidence of the families we serve, as we have for the last 85 years,” she added.

The funeral home offered to bear the expense of Shashi Sharma’s family’s second trip to India, the report cited Heaviside as saying.