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Brooklyn funeral home accused of storing COVID-19 victims' bodies in U-Haul trucks sued

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Posted at 8:35 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 20:35:14-04

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn funeral home accused of storing bodies of COVID-19 victims in U-Haul vans is now the subject of multiple lawsuits filed by families of those that have died.

Four lawsuits were filed Monday, according to the law firm Morgan & Morgan. Two suits were filed in Bronx County Court, one in Kings County, and one federal suit in the Eastern District of New York.

The Andrew Cleckley Funeral Home, named in each of the four complaints, is in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn.

Police sources previously told PIX11 anywhere from 30 to 60 bodies were being stored in two U-Haul trucks outside the funeral home.

The source said the funeral home was filled to capacity and, and called the unsanitary and undignified storage "totally inappropriate."

"These funeral homes need to know this is unacceptable,” the source said.

In one of the complaints, the funeral home is accused of "the mishandling, abuse and desecration of the remains" of the plaintiff's father, saying his "remains were discovered among the scores of bodies that were desecrated and abandoned in a U-Haul at Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home – all left there to rot and decay. His remains came to this disrespectful, unimaginable end because the defendants failed to carry out their sacred, fiduciary, professional and contractual duties." the complaint said in part.

That suit was filed by the victim's daughter.

“These grieving families, in their time of greatest need and vulnerability, placed their trust in licensed funeral home professionals," attorneys with the law firm said in a statement.

"The families hired these professionals to make sure that their loved ones would be laid to rest with the utmost care, dignity and respect. Instead, the remains were desecrated and abandoned, left to fester and rot. The horror to these families, who have already been through so much, is unimaginable. We will fight to hold everyone responsible for this disgrace accountable – and to make sure no other family ever has to go through something like this again," they said.

A spokesperson from the New York State Health Department said previously that "funeral directors are required to store decedents awaiting burial or other final disposition in appropriate conditions and to follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions."

The funeral home's license was later suspended.

Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued the immediate suspension order to the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home, he said in a statement, calling the business’ actions “appalling” and “disrespectful to the family of the deceased, and completely unacceptable.”

Dekalb Funeral Services and Armistead Funeral and Cremation Services were also named in some of the lawsuits.

At the time of the allegations, PIX11 tried to reach the Cleckley Funeral Home and did not hear back.

Allen Levine, Shirley Chan and Mary Murphy contributed.