Written by: Jesse Minc Portrait Jesse Minc

On January 27, 2017, Jesse Minc was quoted in the New York Post in an article regarding one of his cases involving claims by Alfrida Rodriguez, Michael Sanchez and David Velez against the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, Inc. in Bronx, New York. You can read the full New York Post article about this outrageous case here.

The family’s claims are being brought under the legal doctrine of Loss of Sepulcher. This important doctrine in personal injury law allows next of kin to recover for the emotional damages caused when someone interferes with their absolute right to promptly receive the remains of a deceased loved one for preservation and burial or cremation. This type of claim is distinct from a Wrongful Death claim because the cause of the death of the individual whose body has been lost or delayed in its delivery to the family is not at issue in the lawsuit, but only a delay or interference in the delivery of the body. However, this type of claim is similar to a Wrongful Death claim in that the claims accrue directly to the next of kin, rather than to the estate of the dead person. All of the next of kin of a deceased person whose body is lost, or unreasonably delayed in its delivery to the family, can recover for the emotional trauma and harm that they suffer.  New York law provides that these damages are presumed (i.e., that, generally, a plaintiff does not have to prove that they required any sort of psychological or other medical treatment to be entitled to compensation).  A Loss of Sepulcher claim is one of only a few types of negligence claims (as opposed to intentional tort claims) in which emotional harm is compensable without proof of a corresponding physical injury to the aggrieved person.

This case, captioned Alfrida Rodriguez, Michael Sanchez and David Velez v. R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, Inc., involved the tragic and untimely death of Luz Maria Sanchez, a single woman who lived in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Sanchez was survived by her three siblings, Alfrida Rodriguez, Michael Sanchez and David Velez. In September of 2017, when their sister died, Alfrida Rodriguez, on behalf of the rest of the family, paid the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home between $600-700 to perform cremation services for her sister’s body. She was originally told that the ashes would be ready for pickup after approximately one week.

Alfrida waited patiently for nearly two weeks before calling the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home to inquire about the status of her departed sister’s remains. Over the course of the next few months, after multiple unanswered inquires and phone calls, it became apparent to Ms. Rodriguez and her family that something was terribly wrong. By mid-November of 2017, Ms. Rodriguez and her family had grown extremely frustrated by the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home’s lack of a response and failure to deliver their sister’s ashes, and so they approached Jesse Minc for legal assistance.

In January of 2017, this case was filed in the Bronx County Supreme Court, and shortly thereafter the New York Post picked up the story and interviewed plaintiff Alfrida Rodriguez, as well as Jesse Minc as her attorney. We will provide updates to this story as it develops, as this case is still in its very early stages as of the date of this article.

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