A family has filed a lawsuit claiming that an employee at a funeral home took a photo of their dead daughter’s “disfigured body,” and shared it on Facebook.
Jakiel Allyson Jones, 27, was reportedly killed on Jan. 18th after she was hit by a car on I-95 in Palm Springs, Fla. On Tuesday, the victim’s parents Deanna Washington and Jessie Jones, filed a lawsuit claiming that a photo of their daughter’s body had circulated from Stevens Brothers Funeral Home on Feb. 2 — the day of Jakiel’s funeral.
In an interview with WPTV, Washington said discovering the photo was a “pain that I wouldn’t wish on no parent.”
"To think that you're hiring a funeral home to trust your loved one with, and to have something like this happen, it's a tragedy," Washington told the Florida station.
According to WPTV, the photo was taken on a concrete slab in the prep room before the funeral.
“My baby was partially clothed on a mortuary slab with her hair pulled back,” Washington reportedly said. “...her body had not been prepped for us or anyone else to view.”
The family’s lawsuit says the act caused Washington and Jones to suffer “mental anguish, emotional distress and additional pain and suffering regarding the loss of their loved one.”
The family’s lawyer, Nicole Hunt Jackson told Yahoo Lifestyle in a statement that the “case is about accountability.”
“This funeral home owed a duty to these good people to handle this difficult time with dignity and respect for the family and their loved one,” read the statement. “The conscious choice made by the employee at Stevens Brothers take and share a photo of Jakiel's disfigured body, violated every sense of dignity and respect that should have been given to the family and the deceased. Steven's Brother's failed these good people at the most vulnerable time in their lives and they should be held accountable.”
Another spokesperson for Jackson tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the family’s goal isn’t monetary compensation — rather, they want to ensure this doesn’t happen to another family.
However, they are asking to be refunded for the cost of the funeral, since it was sponsored by the Town of Palm Beach.
The firm added that there is no active police case regarding the lawsuit, and no criminal charges have been filed to their knowledge
While representatives from Stevens Brothers Funeral Home did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, president Tony Mack II reportedly questioned the allegations.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Mack said the funeral home does not permit photography unless “family members ask,” and while he hasn’t seen any “viable proof” to support the allegations, if they’re true, the employee responsible “will be fired and might be subject to legal action.”
Yahoo Lifestyle was unable to locate the post on Facebook, and Washington told the Palm Beach Post that it has since been deleted.
According to their lawsuit, the family is seeking damages “in excess of $15,000, exclusive of costs and interest.”
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