Top Court Restores Suit Against Funeral Home
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that funeral directors who organize and lead a funeral procession owe people a safe trip between the chapel and the cemetery.
And that will let a 1993 Orlando lawsuit against Union Park Memorial Chapel move forward.
An Orange County woman sued the chapel after she was injured during a funeral procession along East State Road 50 in February 1992.
When Kathleen Hutt followed the procession across Dean Road through a red light, an oncoming car slammed into her, causing severe hip and back injuries that still pain her today, said her Orlando attorney Mel Wright.
She accused the funeral home of failing to safely operate and supervise the procession. The lawsuit said the funeral home didn’t arrange for traffic to be directed across the intersection. Florida law allows funeral processions to drive through red lights, but the lawsuit claims the funeral home didn’t adequately explain to participants how the procession should work.
The funeral home got the lawsuit thrown out in 1994. An appeals court said it should be reinstated, and the justices agreed.
Douglas Stowell, an attorney for the Florida Funeral Directors Association, handled the appeal and said the ruling hurts a time-honored tradition.
“In addition to being trained as funeral directors they (directors) will have to be trained as traffic cops and processional planners,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a degree in that or not.”
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