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Lawsuit alleges cremation mix-up at Tulocay

Lawsuit alleges cremation mix-up at Tulocay

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The daughter of a man cremated at Tulocay Cemetery a year ago allegedly received the ashes of another family's loved one in a mix-up, according to a suit filed this week in Napa County Superior Court.

She later learned that the ashes of her dad, Harold Robert Kaiser, had gone to another family and been scattered, according to the complaint Nina Kaiser filed Monday against Tulocay Mortuary Association .

When she learned of this snafu, "it was disbelief," Nina Kaiser said in a brief interview Friday.

The San Diego County resident's father, a retired electrical engineer, died on March 23, 2010, in Los Altos, three months shy of his 90th birthday.

Nina Kaiser contacted Tulocay in April 2010 when she received her father's purported remains because the tag numbers were different from those on the paperwork she had been provided, the complaint said.

"The identification numbers didn't match," said Clayton Kent, an attorney with Brayton and Purcell LLP of Novato, who represents Kaiser and the Kaiser family estate.

According to the complaint, the elder Kaiser's remains had been cremated at Tulocay under a contract with Traditioncare Funeral Service, a mortuary company with offices in Pleasant Hill and Antioch. Under the contract, the ashes were to be then returned to the family, the document said.

Tulocay told Nina Kaiser there had been a "mix-up," the complaint said. According to the filing, Kaiser said she was told "the remains that she was given were not those of her father, and that her father's remains had been given to another family, and that the remains she was given were those of said other family," according to the court filing.

According to the suit, Peter Manasse, Tulocay Cemetery Association's manager, told Nina Kaiser that Tulocay had located the remains of her father "still intact."

"The remains would be exchanged so she would be able to properly handle the remains of her father," the document said.

When Kaiser, who had planned a memorial, received her father's ashes, she inquired about "the difference in weight and volume of the remains" she had received compared to those she had returned. Kaiser, according to the complaint, was assured she had "all of the remains of her father."

Subsequently, the plaintiff learned that the family that had received her father's remains in the mix-up had "held a ceremony" during which "the majority of the remains had been scattered."

According to the complaint, the family had provided that information to Manasse who nonetheless allegedly told Kaiser that all her father's remains were there and that "the difference in weight and volume was due to the fact that the other decedent was a much larger man."

"It's shocking and appalling," Kaiser said Friday.

The suit accused Tulocay Cemetery Association, which offers a variety of services, including crematory, of alleged fraud and both Tulocay and Traditioncare Funeral Service of alleged breach of contract and negligence. The suit seeks damages and suit costs, the complaint said.

Kent said the suit was filed after he and Tulocay's insurance carrier were not able to come to a resolution.

Manasse, who was not aware of the suit until Friday, read a statement on behalf of Tulocay.

"We have received the claim and are investigating it. We are diligently working to respond to the matter and we have been advised to not comment anymore until the investigation is complete," he said.

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