Family takes action against Pasadena funeral home

Noah Ljemba was killed when he was thrown from a pickup truck

August 10, 2010 4:37:18 PM PDT
A father is suing a Pasadena funeral home because of what happened to his son's body after he died. A sudden accident took Noah Ljemba's life, and the family was preparing for a burial in Africa. But things have not quite turned out as planned.

At 26 years old, Noah was killed when he was thrown from the back of a pickup. The good-natured African native was helping a friend move furniture.

His body was taken to the Fairmont Funeral Home, where it was embalmed and prepped for a commercial flight to Uganda, his family's native country. But the planned wake and ceremony were canceled when his coffin arrived.

"The body was in such a deteriorated state of decomposition that the father could not identify his son," said attorney Judy Mingledorff. "He had to identify him by his hands. The odor was horrendous."

With the help of a Ugandan funeral home, a quick burial was finally arranged, but Noah's father was still in shock after opening the coffin.

"It was traumatic enough for this father to lose this young man. They were very close," said Mingledorff. "But to receive his son for his final burial in that condition was nightmarish."

The family is too distraught to talk on camera. They've filed a lawsuit against the funeral home and the employee charged with embalming Noah's body. What exaclty went wrong remains to be seen, as the family hopes a legal process will get them some answers.

We contacted Fairmont Funeral Home and Cremation Services. They tell us they will not be commenting with a pending lawsuit. However, the victim's family says they are seeking unspecified damages.

While the original ceremony was canceled, the young man was eventually buried beside his mother's grave in Uganda.


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