Fla. Lawsuit Over Woman's Embalming
Apr. 03, 2002
MIAMI (AP) _ A widower filed a lawsuit claiming his wife was embalmed by a university's mortuary science students without his permission or knowledge.
Jeffrey Post claims Lynn University violated his and his wife's Jewish faith because embalming is not allowed under their religion.
``There will be no closure now,'' said Post. ``If you are embalmed or tattooed, you are denied the privilege of seeing God. My wife will never rest in peace.''
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, saying up to 600 other bodies may also have been embalmed by Lynn University without permission.
Post filed the suit Monday against Lynn University, Levitt-Weinstein Memorial Chapel and Professional Transport, a body transportation company.
Those named in the suit were accused of committing conspiracy, tortuous interference with dead bodies, infliction of emotional distress and other charges.
The suit contends that Professional Transport had an arrangement with Lynn to take bodies to the university, where students could practice embalming, in exchange for $110 for each corpse.
The lawsuit says Madeline Post's body was taken to the university and embalmed by Lynn students, and then Professional Transport took her to Levitt-Weinstein, where she was cremated as planned.
According to traditional Jewish law, cremation also is not allowed. But Madeline Post believed cremation was acceptable under the traditions of Reform Judaism.
Officials at Lynn University, a 2,000-student private school in Boca Raton, declined comment Monday.
Levitt-Weinstein, a funeral home business based in Cincinnati and part of the Loewen Group of Funeral Chapels, said Professional Transport took Madeline Post's body to Lynn without its knowledge and permission. The company said it informed state regulators immediately when it learned what happened, and said no other bodies it handled were taken by Professional Transport to the university.
Professional Transport did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.
The company is owned by Joe Damiano, who already faces prosecution next month for an unrelated allegation that he attempted to open a crematorium under a false name. The state Department of Business and Professional Regulations is also suing Professional Transport for another unauthorized embalming involving Lynn University.
Jeffrey Post says he first learned of his wife's embalming, in a letter from Levitt-Weinstein, three months after her November 2000 death from cancer.
David Charlip, Post's attorney, said Monday that Professional Transport monopolized the local body-transport market by charging funeral homes nearly $200 per body less than the average industry price.
``Red flags should have gone up, but funeral directors chose to look the other way,'' Charlip said. ``How were these guys able to underbid everyone else, to operate below cost?''
By getting the $110 per body fee from Lynn, Charlip argued. He said the practice amounted to a body-rental operation, with Professional Transport taking three to five bodies a week to the school from 1997 to 2000.