Lawsuit Filed against Queens Funeral Home and NJ Cemetery for Negligent Burial of Victim of Domestic Violence

Friday, February 6, 2015

NEW YORK, NY — Ronald J. Katter of The Katter Law Firm has announced that he has filed a complaint in New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, on behalf of the family of the late Nequia Webb-Davidson against J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home, Inc. in Jamaica, New York and Rosehill Cemetery of Linden, New Jersey. The complaint alleges that the victim’s casket did not fit into the too-small grave that was dug; that the casket’s lid, which was not properly closed, was forced open when it was lowered into the sidewall of the grave; and that soil and dirt fell into the partially open casket onto Ms. Webb-Davidson’s exposed remains. Tragically, the funeral home and cemetery’s mistreatment of Ms. Webb-Davidson’s remains exacerbated the shock and sorrow her family experienced from her murder at the hands of her husband—the most egregious form of domestic violence.

Ms. Webb-Davidson was born and raised in Brooklyn and lived in Chesterfield, Virginia. She was 40 years old when she was killed and had raised five children, ages 13 to 21. She had reported a string of domestic violence incidents by Mr. Terrell Davidson to the authorities. On January 12, 2014, despite the recent filing of an emergency order of protection, Ms. Webb-Davidson’s husband shot her to death and then used the same gun to kill himself.

After Ms. Webb-Davidson’s death, her mother and sisters made plans with J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home for it to retrieve her remains from Virginia, sell them a suitable casket, prepare her remains, and to perform a graveside funeral service at the Rosehill Cemetery on January 24, 2014.

At the funeral, everyone present saw that the grave was too small for the casket to properly fit because the casket was caught and wedged on the side of the grave. Part of it was in the grave and part of it remained above the grave. Then the funeral home and cemetery employees attempted numerous times to re-lower the casket into the grave. Each time the casket was raised and partially lowered into the grave, it jammed into the sidewall of the grave, the casket lid opened wider, and soil and rocks fell into the casket, through the opened lid, onto Ms. Webb-Davidson’s remains, which were improperly exposed. Her family and mourners were aghast.  

After many failed attempts, the casket was raised above the grave and laborers with shovels descended into the empty grave, underneath the suspended casket. They attempted to dig the grave larger. Despite their efforts, when they again partially lowered the casket, it again became wedged, its lid opened and more soil and dirt fell into the casket onto Ms. Webb-Davidson’s exposed remains. The funeral home and cemetery subjected Ms. Webb-Davidson’s grieving family to this recurring debacle. The family’s grief was further compounded when the funeral home’s employee told them the funeral had to be postponed until the next day. The funeral home and cemetery had to dig to enlarge the grave, clean the rocks and soil out of the casket, replace the soiled casket’s liner, properly close the casket and rebury Ms. Webb-Davidson’s remains. Her family and the mourners who could returned the following day for the completion of the funeral.

Mr. Katter said the funeral home and the cemetery deprived Ms. Webb-Davidson’s family of the Right of Sepulcher — that is, the right to have a loved one’s remains treated in a respectful and dignified manner and the right to recover compensation for emotional pain and suffering, when that right is violated. “The funeral home showed an incredible amount of disrespect not only for the deceased, but for her family, who had to witness this incompetence and negligence,” Mr. Katter said. “It is tragic enough that the family continues to feel the anguish of their sudden loss but, worse, they still have to experience the horrors that occurred that day at the graveside service.”

For more information, call (212) 809-4293 or visit www.katterlaw.com.

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About Katter Law Firm

The Katter Law Firm represents clients throughout New York City in personal injury cases including those who have suffered injuries in automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, truck accidents, slip/trip and falls, hotel accidents, assaults, workplace accidents, construction accidents, professional malpractice, nursing home negligence, hospital mistreatment, police abuse, accidental deaths and pet attacks. The firm aggressively represents injured victims through the five boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens as well as Westchester County. For more information, call (212) 809-4293 or visit www.katterlaw.com.