Suit: Family Traumatized When Casket ‘Crashed And Plummeted’ At Burial

(STMW) — Paul Horowitz led a memorable life as a prominent Chicago tax attorney, but it will be the circumstances surrounding his funeral and burial that his family might never be able to forget.

During the burial service at a prominent Jewish cemetery, the casket fell from its straps, landing diagonally in the grave and causing the top to come off, exposing the deceased’s burial garments to family and other mourners, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

The suit names Shalom Memorial Funeral Home in Arlington Heights, Shalom Memorial Park and the Rand Hill Park Cemetery Association as defendants. It claims their negligence led to “mental anguish and suffering, and post traumatic stress” being suffered by the family, including the widow, adult son and adult daughter, on top of their bereavement at the loss of a loved one.

Paul Alan Horowitz passed away on April 26, one day shy of his 66th birthday. After funeral services at Chicago Jewish Funerals in Buffalo Grove, the body was taken for interment to Shalom Memorial Park.

About 100 family members and friends were present for the graveside service on April 28, the suit claims.

However, at some point during the service, the casket “crashed and plummeted suddenly and unexpectedly into the grave, causing the top of the casket to be dislodged … causing the Rabbi, the burial personnel and other attendants to jump into the grave, on and around the casket…,” the suit claims.

Filed by Ronnie Horowitz, the widow of Paul Horowitz, on behalf of herself and her children, Brian Horowitz and Brooke Horowitz, the suit claims the defendants were careless and negligent in maintaining the grave site and burial equipment; failed to properly inspect the casket and burial equipment; failed to supervise the burial service; failed to properly lower the casket into the grave; and failed to comply with the decedent’s directions.

The sight of the fallen, opened casket “caused family and friends and mourners to scream, shout, weep and/or run away at the sight of this horrific event,” and resulted in “long lasting emotional and psychological trauma” from having to see their loved one “desecrated in this manner,” the suit claims. Family members have required “counseling, therapy and professional help” as a result.

The suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

On its website, Shalom Memorial says it is the only Jewish cemetery with a Jewish funeral home on its grounds, and has more than 60 years of experience “providing exceptional and compassionate service … supporting families through the difficulty of loss.”

The corporation’s goal is “to provide comfort to the bereaved, to make arrangements simpler and easier, and to honor the memory of each loved one with the greatest dignity and respect.”

A spokesman for the Shalom Memorial Park said Friday it had no comment on the suit.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire copy; Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

 

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