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Moch, Fay, and Mucci Secure Significantly Reduced Award in Jury Trial in Cook County

HeplerBroom attorney Eric Moch HeplerBroom attorney Joseph Fay HeplerBroom attorney Ryan Mucci

In a case involving an unusual cause of action that rarely goes to trial, HeplerBroom partner Eric Moch and associates Joseph Fay and Ryan Mucci obtained a favorable verdict on behalf of a Chicago funeral home accused of interfering with a family’s statutory right to possess a corpse, that of their deceased mother.

Plaintiffs (four sisters) alleged that the funeral home delayed the procurement of a signed death certificate, which delayed their plans to cremate their late mother. The plaintiffs eventually elected to bury their mother instead and permitted the funeral home to handle the funeral and burial.

(The decedent had passed away in March 2020, during the initial spike in COVID-19 deaths and state-mandated lockdowns, conditions which strained the funeral home’s ability to conduct its business in the usual and customary manner. Nevertheless, the Court ruled in 2023 that the funeral home was negligent for violating The Vital Records Act in the early days of the pandemic and informed the jury of that ruling.)

After a three-day trial, plaintiffs asked the jury for $3 million in total compensation. The jury returned verdicts of just $10,000 for each plaintiff. The total verdict was less than the last pre-trial settlement offer. Pre-trial jury verdict searches revealed just one other reported jury verdict in a case alleging tortious interference with the right to possess a corpse, and that verdict was for over $2 million.

Moch, Fay, and Mucci all practice in the firm’s Chicago office. Moch, a partner, focuses his practice on organized insurance fraud, as well as first- and third-party coverage and bad faith defense. He has been named to the lists of Best Lawyers in America, Illinois Super Lawyers, and Illinois Leading Lawyers. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators and is a Past President of the Society’s Illinois chapter. Fay and Mucci are both associate attorneys. Fay, who obtained his J.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) School of Law in 2021, focuses his practice on the defense of insurance matters. Mucci, a 2023 graduate of DePaul University College of Law, was a HeplerBroom 2022 Summer Associate.


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