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Funeral home cremates wrong body, dead man's family seeks P9 million in damages

By NICK GARCIA Published Aug 30, 2023 11:47 am

The family of an 82-year-old man sued funeral service providers for mistaking their loved one for another person and cremating him after Christian rites instead of Taoist. They are also seeking S$225,000 (P9 million) in damages.

Local media Channel News Asia (CNA) reported that Kee Kin Tiong was retrieved by Harmony Funeral Care on Dec. 30, 2019, and was mistaken for another person, Chia Soon Chuan. The man received funeral rites intended for the latter, leaving his family with no body to conduct a funeral wake with in accordance with Taoist tradition.

As the tradition goes, a deceased person should be mourned for at least three days before cremation to ensure a smooth journey into the afterlife. Without doing so, it is said the person's soul will remain in the body.

The family members, including Kee's children and granddaughter, said they've suffered mental distress, trauma, and persistent complex bereavement disorder. They said the past few years were "a living hell," according to CNA.

Aside from the damages, they're also demanding S$2,257.70 (P94,000) for psychiatric consultations and S$14,000 (P587,000) for "future grief therapy."

Family lawyers said they were "irreversibly denied the opportunity to say their final goodbyes."

Defendants in the case include Tan Khiam Soon Undertaker, the funeral business that arranged for Kee's funeral and cremation; Century Products Company, where Kee's body was embalmed; Harmony Funeral Care; and Nicholas Ang Kai, the employee who retrieved the wrong body.

The trial is ongoing, according to CNA.