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Lawsuit against Port Coquitlam funeral home alleges wrong body delivered

Daughter sues Port Coquitlam funeral home, health authority and the transfer service after someone other than her deceased father was delivered to a mosque for burial rites.
An empty hospital bed.

A B.C. woman is suing Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Heath Transfer Services Inc. and Oliveira Funeral Home in Port Coquitlam for failing to properly care for the body of her deceased father.

Nooshin Mozafar alleges, in a lawsuit filed Sept. 23 in B.C. Supreme Court, that her father's body was mislaid after he died at Lions Gate Hospital on Nov. 4, 2021.

Her father was 91 years old at the time of his death and the two were "very close," the lawsuit states.

In fact, the suit claims, until his passing, the daughter cared for the deceased.

After his death, Mozafar's body was to be transferred to a mosque, for cleaning and wrapping, according to Muslim rituals, before he was to be interred.

Oliveira Funeral Home had contracted Heath Transfer to transport the body to the mosque, according to the suit, and VCH was responsible for releasing the body to Heath Transfer.

However, on Nov. 8, when Mozafar went to the mosque to view the body prior to burial, she found that the wrong person had been delivered.

"Upon unwrapping the body, it became abundantly clear to the Plaintiff that the body was not that of the deceased," the lawsuit claims.

Still, Mozafar was "repeatedly told" that the body she viewed was the deceased.

It wasn't until she was permitted to verify that it was not him, "through identification of specific body parts," that the mosque agreed with her.

Eventually, Heath Transfer and Oliveira "accepted" that the deceased's body was missing and "advised that they would search for it," the lawsuit claims.

The deceased was eventually located after an "exhaustive search" and the deceased was interred at Capilano View Cemetery on Nov. 10, 2021.

No explanation was provided as to what happened with the deceased father's body, causing further pain and suffering to the daughter.

Her suffering includes nervous shock, post-traumatic stress, emotional stress and other injuries.

The suit — which has yet to be tested in court — claims the defendants were negligent in failing to confirm the identity of the deceased and keep track of the body.

It claims that Oliveira, along with VCH and Heath Transfer, were "mistaken" in suggesting Mozafar didn't recognize her own father.

They also failed to follow policies and procedures, communicate with those expected to come into contact with the deceased's body, and train staff properly.

"At all material times, the Defendants, and each of them, owed a duty of care to the Plaintiff, to exercise all reasonable care, skill, diligence and competence in the handling and transportation of the deceased," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks general damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, special damages, an award for future care expenses, costs and interest.