Lawyer: Tiverton has yet to pay up, apologize in cemetery plot mixup

TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The two families whose loved ones were buried in the wrong gravesites are coming to terms with the mistake, and have agreed on a settlement with the town of Tiverton.

But now the town is dragging its feet on what it agreed to, a lawyer for one of the families said Wednesday.

“It’s a very emotional and distressing situation,” said Matthew Shaw, an attorney with Brainsky Levinson, LLC.

As reported last August, the families of Lewis Chadwick, Jr. and Raymond Murray discovered the men had been buried in each other’s plots at Pocasset Hill Cemetery, in a mistake made by town employees. The town originally said it was going to dig up the coffins and swap the men’s bodies in their plots.

After the town consulted a court, an agreement was struck.

In that settlement reached months ago, Shaw said, the town would pay each family $1,750 for burial plots and fees as well as legal fees. The men’s bodies would be left interred, and the families would exchange plot deeds.

The town also agreed in this settlement to issue a formal apology.

“It’s my understanding now that the town of Tiverton is holding up the settlement because of the public apology,” said Shaw.

At a town council meeting back on November 29, 2016, Tiverton’s council members voted unanimously to the terms and the payments, according to meeting minutes obtained by Eyewitness News.

When questioned about it, Tiverton Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto said, “There are issues in the implementation of the agreement that have not been resolved. It should settle promptly.”

Shaw said Wednesday he hadn’t heard from DeSisto in weeks and wasn’t given a timetable as to when the money would be paid or the public apology issued.

“I don’t think it’s much, given the nature of the issue and given what the parties have been through, and I would ask that they act on it immediately,” he said.

Shaw added he now plans to contact a Newport County judge to seek advice on the next steps that should be taken.