CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A Gloucester County woman is suing a funeral home in Camden, claiming they let her brother’s body decompose before the funeral was set to happen.
According to a lawsuit filed this week in Camden County Superior Court, the Carl Miller Funeral Home left John Pratt’s body inadequately embalmed and unrefrigerated in a garage for several days.
“Carl Miller buried everybody in my family, including my parents, my mom and my dad’s side, so that’s who I called,” said Ashkeya Pratt-Williams, who filed the lawsuit.
Pratt, who suffered from diabetes, died on Sept. 17. Pratt-Williams says her instructions on the day of her brother’s death were clear – she wanted her brother’s body embalmed for an open casket funeral to take place 12 days later.
“We wanted to be able to say goodbye, the family,” she said.
Pratt-Williams says, several days after her brother died, the funeral home told her there was a problem and that they would not be able to have an open casket funeral as the family wanted.
“His body started to decompose,” she explained.
Pratt-Williams added, “The body was smelling and really bloated.
Another funeral home took Pratt’s remains and cremated him. The family was not able to give him the sendoff they wanted.
“He was my only brother, my blood, and my parents are gone, so that’s what hurts and I get into these moments where I start thinking ‘why did I pick them?’” said Pratt-Williams.
Levi Combs, a spokesperson for Carl Miller Funeral Home, said the company would not comment on the lawsuit, which they hadn’t received as of Thursday, but he did defend the reputation of the funeral home which has been in Camden for generations.
“Our integrity and our longstanding speaks for itself,” said Combs, adding that he found the allegations shocking.
Pratt-Williams and her family are suing for negligence, fraud and emotional distress.