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Suit: Chatham funeral home buried wrong body before wake in 2015

Sun-Times file photo

A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims a South Side funeral home had already buried the body of a woman’s mother because of an identification mix-up before her mother’s wake in 2015.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court by Monique Williams, Dominique Rutledge and Albert Rutledge — the daughter, son and husband of Ella Rutledge — seeks at least $200,000 in damages from Leak and Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove.

Ella Rutledge died Oct. 31, 2015 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the suit. The family made arrangements with Leak and Sons to take her body from a nursing home to prepare her for burial. The family set a date of Nov. 7, 2015 to hold her wake in order to allow out-of-town relatives time to attend.

When Monique Williams went to the funeral home to confirm arrangements and see that her mother was properly prepared, she was shown the body of a woman who was not her mother, the suit said.

Williams was then shown another body, which also was not her mother, and then photos of other bodies, according to the suit. Staff at the funeral home then realized they had already buried the body of Ella Rutledge after having mixed up her body with another woman.

The family had to explain to family and friends at the wake that Ella Rutledge’s body had been lost, the suit said. The body was later exhumed and re-buried after identification.

A message left Tuesday night with staff at Leak and Sons seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The family accuses the funeral home of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with the right of the family to possess and bury their mother and breach of contract.