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The State

July 20, 1987

A court in Philadelphia dismissed a lawsuit filed by a woman whose mother's body and bronze coffin were damaged during a flight to California. Frances Hackett asked more than $50,000 in damages from United Airlines and the William R. May Funeral Home Inc. of Glenside, Pa. But a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, while offering Hackett their "obvious sympathy," said the laws of their state make no provision for such compensation unless the mistreatment is "intentional or wanton" and the act--not just its results--is actually witnessed by the plaintiff. In her complaint, Hackett said her mother's coffin "sustained numerous dents during the trip" to San Francisco for burial, causing her to suffer "great mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment at the funeral."

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