A funeral is supposed to be a time of remembrance of a loved one and not a time for a subpoena to be issued. However, that was not the case for the funeral of Harold St. John, a retired airline worker, from New Jersey. Last week, the Chrysler Company sent a process server to the funeral of Mr. St. John demanding that his body undergo further testing to prove that he did in fact die as a result of mesothelioma.
Previous to Mr. St. John’s death, he filed a lawsuit naming Chrysler and Honeywell as responsible for his asbestos exposure. Mr. St. John alleged that he was exposed to asbestos while installing automobile brakes in his father’s automobile shop in the late fifties and sixties. This is not the only case linking automobile brake to asbestos exposure. In fact, asbestos was widely used in brake linings and brake pads due to its ability to withstand high temperatures. The trial was set to begin yesterday, but due to Mr. St. John’s death it was postponed.
Chrysler was not buying Mr. St. John’s claim of asbestos exposure and they secured a court order on the day of Mr. St. John’s funeral. The court order mandated that his body be accessible for further tissue testing, and a process server was sent to the funeral home where the funeral director was served with court documents. Mr. St. John’s funeral was stopped and he was never buried.
The St. John family plans to fight Chrysler’s demands because Mr. St. John underwent a biopsy of the pleural lining of his lungs while he was still alive. According to his family, this tissue sample proved that he died of an asbestos-related illness. The body of Mr. St. John, who was only 67 years old when he passed away, remains in a New Jersey funeral home.