Trinidad: Body released after feud between funeral parlours

Candace Simpson- Owner Simpson’s Shalom Chapels Limited

(Trinidad Guardian) The body of a 73-year-old woman, who lost a four-year bat­tle with breast can­cer, was fi­nal­ly re­leased last night af­ter be­ing wran­gled in a two-day cus­tody con­flict be­tween two fu­ner­al homes. The con­flict be­tween the two homes was sparked by an er­ror caused by the Cau­ra Hos­pi­tal.

One month ago, rel­a­tives of Winifred Dun­can con­tract­ed the Simp­son’s Shalom Chapel in Mc Bean Cou­va to do her fi­nal rites. The own­er of the Chapel, Can­dace Simp­son told Guardian Me­dia that she per­son­al­ly wrote up the re­lease doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, when Dun­can died around 3 am on Wednes­day, hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials in­stead con­tact­ed the Simp­son’s Memo­r­i­al Fu­ner­al Home in Laven­tille, which be­longed to her cousin David Simp­son.

David Simpson- Funeral Funeral Director- Simpson’s Memorial Limited

Asked if she be­lieved the sim­i­lar­i­ties in their names were re­spon­si­ble for the mix-up, Can­dace said: “I be­lieve that was the ini­tial mix up, how­ev­er, it was clear­ly ex­pressed on the pa­per­work be­cause I wrote up the pa­per­work for the fam­i­ly sev­er­al months ago – this is the re­lease forms for Cau­ra. The po­lice called Cau­ra while they were here (Wednes­day night) and they ex­pressed that the body was to be re­leased to Simp­son’s Shalom Chapels Lim­it­ed.”

She, how­ev­er, claimed that the dri­ver from her cousin’s es­tab­lish­ment in­ten­tion­al­ly ig­nored this.

Can­dace said she on­ly found out of the mix up af­ter Dun­can’s rel­a­tives, who lived abroad, called to con­firm the fu­ner­al arrange­ments with her and ever since, she said, she had been try­ing to get it re­leased to her.

She said her cousin re­fused to re­lease the body to her un­less she paid a fee of $2900, which she was not pre­pared to do.

“I felt the na­tion need­ed to know two things. Num­ber one that Simp­son’s is a sep­a­rate en­ti­ty.

Can­dace’s cousin and Fu­ner­al Di­rec­tor for Simp­son’s Memo­r­i­al lim­it­ed, David Simp­son, how­ev­er, re­fut­ed the claims.

“We are a feud­ing fam­i­ly, let’s not play smart with fool­ish­ness. Based on the sit­u­a­tion at hand with the oth­er fu­ner­al di­rec­tor (Can­dace) claim­ing that body snatch­ing is be­ing prac­tised, it’s un­for­tu­nate be­cause we at this com­pa­ny don’t do such. I have been a mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Fu­ner­al Pro­fes­sion­als of Trinidad and To­ba­go (AF­PTT). We prac­tice the high­est stan­dards,” David said.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that a mis­take has oc­curred, the hos­pi­tal is set­tling what­ev­er out­stand­ing debt there is,” he added.

David said the $2900 fee be­ing charged to his cousin was for ser­vices his es­tab­lish­ment ren­dered such as re­ceiv­ing and stor­ing the body.

He said af­ter con­sult­ing with the hos­pi­tal’s le­gal de­part­ment, he was told that the hos­pi­tal would ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for the mis­take and would cov­er his bill, al­low­ing him to re­lease the body to his cousin.

Pres­i­dent of the AF­PTT, Kei­th Bel­grove told Guardian Me­dia in a tele­phone in­ter­view that this in­ci­dent re­in­forces the need for fur­ther reg­u­la­tion with­in the in­dus­try

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