In a sad case of official bungling, a once prominent playwright’s family was deprived the right of giving him a timely & proper funeral when they were not notified of his death. Worse still was the fact that his body, unclaimed for several weeks at the city morgue in Bellevue Hospital, was sent to Nassau Community College for embalming class. Hiring a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Brooklyn will make taking every legal step a lot less confusing and challenging for the grieving family members.
The case began when Melfi died in impoverished conditions in 2001. At one time a celebrated Broadway playwright who had worked with John Lennon, Samuel Beckett and produced award winning works like “Oh Calcutta” and “Birdbath,” Melfi had fallen on hard times by the time he died. Years of struggling with alcoholism had left him barely getting by and living in a S.R.O, single room occupancy, hotel room.
On October 28, 2001, Melfi called 911 because he was having trouble breathing. It turned out he was suffering from congestive heart failure, and within four hours of being admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital he was dead. Due to what Melfi’s family claimed was callousness or incompetence, his next of kin was never notified and his body was sent to Nassau Community College for use in training students in embalming techniques. When the students were finished with the unclaimed corpse, Melfi’s body was buried in a mass grave for indigents by Rikers Island inmates on Harts Island.
Two months passed, until Melfi’s neighbors became concerned that no one had heard from him nor knew where he was. The owner of the hotel began calling city hospitals, and finally discovered that Melfi had died, he then contacted Melfi’s family in upstate New York. It took nearly three months of searching by Melfi’s brother to finally locate where he was buried. Melfi’s body was then exhumed and given a proper funeral and burial by his family.
Melfi’s brother hired an attorney to sue for damages claiming negligence in the right to a proper burial and punitive damages for medical malpractice. The case would crawl through the courts for eleven years before January 7, 2014, when Judge Milton Tingling of the New York Appellate Division ordered Mt. Sinai Hospital to pay $1.25 million to Melfi’s family.
The family released a statement saying that the money does not compensate for the indignities heaped upon Leonard Melfi following his death. However, the family says they have discovered a previously unpublished play by Melfi among the items recovered from his hotel room, which may give his work a posthumous return to the stage. John Melfi, his brother said that he wants to establish a theater group in his brother’s name.
Contact A Trusted New York Personal Injury Attorney
The loss of a family member is a tragedy that leaves irreparable heartache. This can be compounded if negligence or medical malpractice is suspected as the cause. If you or a family member suspect that the loss of a loved one was due to negligence, contact the Law Firm of The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP at (212) 425-1999 for the Manhattan office and (718) 875-3550 for the Brooklyn office to schedule a consultation at no cost to you.They are only paid if they recover money in your case. The New York personal injury lawyers of The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP. have over 70 years of legal experience and have successfully represented family members and the injured in a wide range of personal injury and medical malpractice cases .They have recovered many multi million dollar verdicts and settlements and are ready to help those who have suffered an injury or loss of a loved one due to negligence obtain justice.