Opening arguments began Monday in a case involving a family that held a funeral and buried a stranger they thought was their loved one — who turned out to be alive.

The Orange County Coroner’s Office in 2017 told Frank Kerrigan that his 57-year-old son was found dead behind a Verizon store in Fountain Valley. The man later found out that his son was still alive, days after burying someone else next to his wife.

“They buried their son next to his deceased mom. And 11 days later, Frankie Kerrigan showed up alive. How could this happen? How could the Orange County Coroner’s Office get this so wrong?” said the family’s attorney, James DeSimone.

Kerrigan and his daughter are suing the county, accusing the coroner’s office of intentional misrepresentation. An attorney representing Orange County says it was a mistake involving a new computer system.

Gene Kang reports for the KTLA 5 Morning News on April 5, 2022.