The family of Kathleen Durst recently filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit
against Robert Durst claiming he murdered his wife thirty-three years
ago, hid the body and deprived them of their right to bury her. With New
York State’s two-year statute of limitations on wrongful-death claims,
how can her family sue after all these years?
ThE JINX HELPED MAKE CLAIM POSSIBLE
Kathleen Durst disappeared on January 31, 1982. She was pronounced dead
on March 21, 1988 after being missing for over six years. Her body was
never discovered and the killer was never caught. It was not until thirty-three
years after her disappearance that her family filed a multi-million dollar
civil action against Kathleen’s husband, billionaire eccentric Robert Durst.
In an episode of the highly acclaimed HBO series,
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which aired on March 15, 2015, Robert Durst admitted to killing his wife.
In a chilling confession, he says “There it is…you’re
caught. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” Based
on this confession, Kathleen Durst’s family filed a lawsuit claiming
that Robert Durst killed his wife, hid her body and deprived them of their
right to bury Kathleen. It was the confession, claims the family of Kathleen
Durst, that gave rise to their claim.
ThE Right of sepulcher
Generally speaking, the “right of sepulcher” means the right
to choose and control the burial, cremation, or other final disposition
of a dead human body. Under New York Law, the next of kin of a decedent
can commence a lawsuit for a violation of his or her right of sepulcher
when 1) a next of kin’s right to immediate possession of a decedent’s
body is interfered with, and 2) the interference causes mental anguish.
New York courts have held that interference with a next of kin’s
right of sepulcher can arise under the following circumstances: 1) unauthorized
autopsy; 2) inadvertent disposition of remains; and 3) failure to notify
next of kin of the death.
It remains to be seen whether this claim will succeed against Robert Durst.
However, one thing is certain, Robert Durst “killed them all, of