I'm sorry to hear about the problems you are having. I hope the
following information will point you in the right direction.
The web site of the New York City Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene is at [ http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/home.html ].
Their Office of Vital Records provides an online form where one can
submit corrections to death certificates: [
You can also call the department directly at (212) 219-5400 .
I highly recommend that you collect your own documents (marriage
license, proof of name change, etc.) before contacting them, in case
they ask for it. In addition, you probably want to "stick to the
facts" when talking to them. You are the spouse. She is not. Whether
or not "she was known to all his friends/co-workers as a wacko" is
irrelevant to these people. All that matters is that she deliberately
lied on the form, and you want it corrected.
As regards filing a lawsuit for defamation of character, I recommend
that you speak with a qualified lawyer. I am not permitted to give you
legal advice, as per Google Answers' policy. In the United States,
anybody can sue anyone for anything. Whether you will win or lose is
an altogether different matter which only a competent attorney may
advise you of. You proceed with a lawsuit by contacting an attorney
and asking them what you can do.
Wikipedia has an article about defamation of character, slander, and
libel at [ http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel ]. A relevant quotation
from this is:
"Libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of
character), which is the tort of making a false statement that would
tend to unjustly lower its hearers' or readers' opinion(s) of the
person(s) the communication was about. When the communication is in
writing, it is properly termed 'libel'. If made via the spoken word,
the correct term is 'slander'."
The point here, is that libel is a subcategory of "tort." What's a
tort? From [ http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tort ]:
"Under United States law, torts are generally divided into two
categories: intentional torts and non-intentional torts. Intentional
torts include those actions that are intentional and voluntary and
that are made with knowledge by the tortfeasor (i.e. the person who
committed the tort) upon the plaintiff (the one who brings the
complaint seeking relief). Intentional torts include: battery, assault
(apprehension of harmful or offensive contact), false imprisonment,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, the real property tort
of trespass to land, and the personal property torts of conversion and
trespass to chattels.
Amongst unintentional torts one finds negligence as being the most
common source of ligitation in most American courts. It is a form of
extracontractual liability that is based upon a duty of care of a
reasonable person, who, being the proximate cause of damages, and but
for the tortfeasor's act, is the cause of damages to the plaintiff.
Other non-intentional torts include negligent infliction of emotional
Based on all this, I'm going to take an educated guess that your
lawsuit against her could be filed in civil court, but if she's lied
on a government document, she may be liable under criminal law as
New York's court system provides documents which allow you to file
court cases on their web site [
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courthelp/index.html ]. Over here, you
should find the right forms to get you started.
If you've understood all of the definitions above and know exactly
which category your lawsuit will fall into, then you'd probably make a
good lawyer. Otherwise, please take my advice and speak to somebody
who is trained and licensed to deal with these issues.
I hope this has helped,
Google Search: "new york" "death certificate" law OR laws