The family of the Brampton teen killed during last year’s Toronto Caribbean Carnival is being sued by a funeral home for what it claims is an unpaid debt of more than $15,000 from his extravagant burial service.
The total bill for the funeral at Scott Funeral Home in Brampton was $28,856.62, including $2,725 for limousines and other vehicles in the funeral procession, a $3,995 casket, $4,400 in catering and almost $1,500 in flowers. The invoice also included a $199 fee for an online obituary DVD and $999 for custom printing.
The relatives, in a statement of defence, claim that days after Rueshad Grant’s accidental death, Scott Funeral Home “induced” them to spare no expense by telling them that a lawsuit would pay for everything.
Neither side’s allegations have been tested in court.
Arbor Memorial, which owns the funeral home, did not respond specifically to the Star’s questions.
“Options and choices are presented and families choose what is meaningful to them,” vice-president Gary Carmichael wrote in an email. “For privacy reasons we do not discuss the specifics of any family’s arrangements with the media.”
Grant was killed when he was pulled under a float during last summer’s grand parade. Because the incident was considered a motor vehicle accident and no one in Grant’s family had car insurance, the only money for funeral costs came from the float driver’s insurance company, said the family’s lawyer, Rishi Singh Bhasin.
The family paid the funeral home $13,300, according to Arbor Memorial’s statement of claim. The family says $6,000 of that was received from the insurance payout and the balance was put on Rueshad’s grandmother’s credit card.
“It’s still being paid off,” said the teen’s mother, Shaundel Ramessar, who hasn’t been able to return to her job cleaning rooms at the Radisson since her son’s death.
In the statement of claim filed in Brampton in April, Scott Funeral Home is demanding Grant’s stepfather and grandmother pay the outstanding $15,556.62, plus $2,537.66 in interest.
Arbor Memorial’s statement of claim asserts that the company “contracted with the defendant to provide funeral services for the late Rueshad Grant . . . (and) therefore claims against the defendant the sum of $18,094.28,” along with any further interest and Arbor’s legal costs.
“From our understanding, we would have time to pay it off,” Ramessar told the Star in an interview. “Then they started running us down for the payments. At that time we weren’t expecting all this to happen. It was just a shock to us.”
In the statement of defence, the family alleges that an employee of the funeral home “advised the mother of deceased, Shaundell Grant, and (his step father) Robert Grant, that he knew a lawyer that could obtain a very large settlement for the Grants with the Scotia Bank and the City of Toronto.”
It goes on to allege that, “The actions of (the employee) were extremely deceptive and constitute a fraudulent misrepresentation … (The relatives) were vulnerable due to the recent loss of their family member and as a result were more receptive to the statements.”
Even before the funeral, the family publicly expressed doubts that they would be able to afford it, and called on parade organizers for help.
At the time, Stephen Weir, a spokesperson for the Caribbean Carnival, said the organization was seeking to help the family. Last week, Weir would not say whether any money had been paid out.
Ramessar says they received no assistance and were soon inundated with calls from a collections agency.
“We paid what we had, and here it is — 28 per cent (interest) that they added onto the balance. It’s just crazy.”
In 2007, a man lost his leg in a similar incident when he fell from a float and was dragged under the truck.
“Caribana is supposed to be a fun event,” Ramessar said. “It shouldn’t be a tragedy for anyone.”
The Grant family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the organizers of the parade for “several million dollars,” Bhasin said, but don’t expect to see any money for years. The final settlement is also likely to be far less, he said.