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What's in a name? In at least one case, a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court

A Los Angeles man whose great-grandfather immigrated to the US from Italy has sued a Boston relative over what to call the patriarch on a memorial plaque.

In his lawsuit, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Dean Di Simone says his Boston cousin had agreed to create "an elaborate memorial plaque" honoring their ancestor and to ship it to LA by Dec. 15.

But, Di Simone alleges, he and his relative - the immigrant's great-great-grandson - had a falling out over what to call the man. Di Simone wanted him memorialized as Donato De Simone, but the relative is insisting his name is really Anthony Di Simone and should be inscribed like that. And so, no plaque and now the name beef will wind up before a Boston judge, who will have to rule on Di Simone's request that the Boston relative not only be ordered to produce the plaque but to list their ancestor's name as Donato De Simone.

In his complaint, filed by Boston law firm Grolman LLP, Di Simone avers:

Plaintiff's great grandfather was named Donato De Simone. In various vital records, he alternately called himself Anthony Di Simone, Sr.; Tony Di Simone; Anthony Di Simone; Donatum De Simone; and Anthony J. DiSimone. In the Italian language, Anthony or Tony is a common alternate of Donato. In some renderings, there was a space between "De" and "Simone" and others not. These variations were due to the unfamiliarity of vital records officials who were tasked with recording names.

He continues:

Defendant complains that his great-great grandfather's name should be rendered as Anthony Di Simone.

Defendant is incorrect in that the Plaintiff's great-grandfather's name must be rendered as Donato De Simone.

Defendant's failure to provide the Plaque to Plaintiff on or before December 15, 2022 constitutes a breach of contract.

Plaintiff has been damaged as a result, and Plaintiff's remedy at law is neither adequate nor complete.

PDF icon Complete complaint165.49 KB


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I love watching Henry Lewis Gates' show. This would be great for his show. Was the name mangled and shortened by Ellis Island authorities? What is the real name?

Voting closed 10

East Boston was taking in more immigrants at one point than Ellis Island. While some people's names probably did get changed by immigration authorities, that is generally now considered a myth. Many immigrants planned their own name change on the sail over. One of my French Canadian surnames had a community agreed upon English version that they used when they crossed over the border to sound more New England-y and some of them just stuck with it.

If this was a more common thing, we wouldn't have the original and very non English names on the ship manifestos or their naturalization forms.

Voting closed 6

NO ONE's name was changed in any way by anyone at Ellis Island. An urban myth.

Voting closed 5

Novel legal theories and expert craftsmanship.

Voting closed 4

It would probably be cheaper to just get a plaque made to his specifications than to pay legal fees, court costs, etc.

Voting closed 11

Yeah transportation fees probably dwarf the cost of the plaque. This reeks of using the courts to settle a family dispute. Like unless a contract was formed and can be proved then this guy is out of luck anyways.

Voting closed 3

The point isn't the plaque. The point is to be proven right in a court of law, so the winners side of the family can be insufferable shits at every family gathering for the rest of time.

Voting closed 19

I think we should compromise: let's put up a plaque in memoriam of Antie Da Simon. Everyone should be equally happy with that version.

Voting closed 5

a/k/a Anthony Di Simone, Sr., a/k/a Tony Di Simone, a/k/a Anthony Di Simone, a/k/a Donatum De Simone, a/k/a Anthony J. DiSimone.

in a separate plaque, include an affidavit under MGL C 183 Section 5B.

Voting closed 3