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Man erroneously declared dead: trial commences

A civil action brought by a man who had been declared dead based on an incorrect death certificate is pending before the Regional Court in Warsaw. The case is handled by the HFHR’s Strategic Litigation Programme and the claimant is represented pro bono by Mr Andrzej Tomaszek.Clerical mistake

In October 2011, a homeless man was admitted to the emergency room of a Warsaw hospital. His condition deteriorated and the man died after two weeks. The patient had no documents but introduced himself as one “Andrzej Kępa”, the name later entered in the man’s death certificate and burial records.

Several months later, in February 2012, a man named Andrzej Kępa applied to a local authority for the renewal of his expired personal identity document. Mr Kępa’s application was denied because, as a local authority informed him, his name was deleted from the vital records register. In response to the above, he applied to competent bodies for the invalidation of the relevant death certificate. Ultimately, the certificate was annulled but this had not happened until June 2013, a year after the invalidation request was made.


Mr Kępa sued the State Treasury and the city of Warsaw, seeking compensation for his moral injuries and an apology. The claimant alleges that he has suffered material psychological harm resulting from the fact of having been declared dead and the excessive length of proceedings conducted in order to invalidate the erroneous death certificate. He further argues that without an identity document he had difficulties in accessing health care services.

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