Judge Holds Cemetery Liable After Casket Pops Open During Burial

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A Bronx judge has held a cemetery liable in a botched burial after the casket popped open. A family suing a Brooklyn cemetery scored a legal win Monday after the judge ruled the cemetery was responsible for the horrendous case.

The summary judgment sought by Jose Semidey and Awilda Rivera was granted by Justice Mary Ann Briganti.

According to their suit, the family watched in terror last June as workers at the Evergreens Cemetery tried to force the coffin into a grave that was dug too small.

Carrying the remains of 79-year-old Claribel Oppenheimer, the coffin got stuck in the grave and popped open in front of 35 mourners during the June 24 burial. The suit says workers struggled to shake it free.

According to the suit, the coffin was moved to the grass by cemetery workers, who brought in a backhoe to lengthen the grave.

The suit said, eventually Oppenheimer’s body was transferred to a new coffin at a nearby funeral home and lowered to her final resting place headfirst.

According to Eric Rothstein, an attorney for Oppenheimer’s children, a jury will now hear the case and determine the amount of damages due.

“I am extremely pleased that the Judge viewed the videos and ruled that the cemetery violated my clients’ right to find solace and comfort in their mother’s burial and improperly dealt with her body,” Rothstein said in a statement.

“We look forward to letting a Bronx jury decide how much the cemetery must pay to compensate them for their emotional damages.”

A spokesperson for the cemetery couldn’t be reached for comment.



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