Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Family seeks damages over son's US burial

Relatives of a computer programmer from Doncaster who was buried as an unknown man in a New York cemetery have filed a damages claim against US authorities.

Richard Massey, 27, was reported missing shortly before Christmas 2002.

After his body was found in the Hudson River in 2003 he was buried as an unknown man, his mother Margaret said.

The lawsuit accuses US police and medical examiners of negligence. A New York City Law Department spokeswoman said it would review the matter.

Mr Massey's relatives said they reported Mr Massey missing and gave US police identifying information, including his dental records.

Negligence claim

But after his body was found in the Hudson River in 2003, authorities buried him as an unknown man, where he remained unidentified for more than five years, his mother Margaret said in the lawsuit.

Lawyers representing the Massey family say the truth did not emerge until a family lawyer traced Mr Massey's body to a city mortuary.

The lawsuit has been filed in the state supreme court in Manhattan. It seeks unspecified damages and accuses the city, police and medical examiners of negligence and depriving Mrs Massey of the right to bury her son.

Spokeswoman Connie Pankratz, of the New York City Law Department, which is responsible for the legal affairs of the city, said Mr Massey's death was "tragic".

"We will carefully review the matter," she said.

DNA tests

The medical examiners' office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

James Modzelewski, a lawyer for Mrs Massey, said Mr Massey had been working for an investment firm in New York.

Mr Modzelewski said the computer programmer had gone missing after being released from a hospital in December 2002 after apparently having suffered emotional problems.

He said DNA tests had confirmed Mr Massey's identity.

His body was exhumed and his remains have now been buried in Doncaster.

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