Lifestyle & Belief

Funeral home drops casket and body falls out, family gets $80,000 payout


A Grand Rapids family has received an $80,000 settlement after a funeral home dropped their mother's coffin, causing her body to fall onto the ground outside the church.


Mario Carlini / Iguana Press

Family members of Ellnora James, 67, claimed staff from a West Michigan funeral home twas removing the casket from the hearse outside the church when the incident happened.

Wood TV reported the casket broke and Mrs James' body fell onto the ground, which some family members saw.

"This is the last time you get to show your respects for your loved ones," said Dean Libbett, James' son.

"There was no respect and there was no dignity and there was no remorse for what happened."

Ventura County Star reported James' son, Dean Libbett, said there was "no dignity" and "no remorse." 

Libett said family members knew something was wrong when funeral staff contacted the family asking for new clothing for James, and they later noticed James' was in a different casket. 

The case was settled yesterday for $80,000, but some family members were upset the case did not go to trial, Wood TV reported. 

"For me, it's not about the money. It's what they did to my mom," daughter Tawanna Libbett told the reporter.

She said the Ivy K. Gillespie Funeral Home in Grand Rapids had apologized for what happened.