Deborah Medellin and her family are suing Laurel Land Funeral Home and Cemetery in Dallas, Texas, for incompetence that led to injuries.
The family was burying Deborah’s husband, who passed away in May. Two funeral-home employees were responsible for lowering the casket into its grave, but then something unusual happened.
According to the complaint, “the belt holding the casket had not been properly attached to the said casket, and, without warning, began to slip. This, in turn, caused the casket to fall violently into the plot and partially overturn. At this time, the employees of the defendant apparently looked at each other, began to smirk and laugh, and ran from the premises leaving the family, friends and acquaintances in total disbelief and humiliating the family."
The family members were allegedly forced to correct the situation on their own, and three people jumped into the open grave to set the casket straight.
Says the complaint, "Each of the three plaintiffs was injured in their efforts to right the casket and prevent the body of the decedent from falling from the casket. Ovidio Medellin, Renee Delgado and Ovidio Olivo suffered serious and potentially permanent injuries as a result of the negligence of the defendant."
The family is now seeking financial compensation in Dallas County Court.
This is hardly the first time a funeral home has been accused of botching a burial. In 2011, a man sued a Chicago cemetery for improperly embalming his mother, resulting in brown liquid leaking from her head. They also placed her in a casket that was too small for the grave, so the casket was damaged as they tried to squeeze it in.
In another incident in 2009, a Philadelphia funeral home mixed up two bodies. As relatives viewed the casket, they saw a stranger dressed in their loved ones’ clothing.
The man’s daughter told the Daily News, “I touched him. We kissed him. Some of us thought it was him.”
A California mortuary worker is accused of stealing 125 gold crowns from dead bodies under his care and then pawning them for cash.
Pete Jacob Lara, 39, a former apprentice embalmer at the Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster, allegedly carried out the thefts over the course of a year, between 2012 ad 2013, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors allege that Lara also took a cremation urn box and medallions used to decorate urn boxes worth more than $1,000.
Lara was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon on more than two dozen charges. These charges include removal or possession of dental gold from human remains, grand theft by embezzlement and one count of possession of methamphetamine, the Daily Mail reports.
He also faces 23 counts of second-degree commercial burglary.
Lara allegedly stole the gold crowns from strangers’ bodies and sold them at pawnshops and jewelry stores, some for $50, a police source told the New York Daily News.
If convicted as charged, Lara faces a maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison.
Lara’s bail has been set at $510,000. The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
His profile has been removed from the Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home website.
Sources: New York Daily News, Daily Mail
Innovative or blasphemous? The Oliver and Eggleston Funeral Establishment in Farmville, Virginia is offering drive-thru viewing of loved ones in caskets.
This unique viewing service was created by Carl Eggleston, who also offers fingerprints of the dearly departed on rings, pendants and ear rings.
“You can stay in your car and ride by this window, see your loved one, also see when the place and time of service is going to be held, on this board here, without leaving your car,” Eggleston told WTVR-TV.
“You can have a regular viewing, in a regular room and then at night, if you want us to roll you over here and put you in here, we can put the person in here."
Eggleston believes the drive-thru option could be used especially during bad weather or by people with disabilities.
He also plans to have video cameras installed in the funeral home's chapel so that the services can be viewed online from anywhere.
A mother was left even more devastated by the murder of her daughter after a funeral director left her body to rot in a basement.
Jessica Bachman lost her two-year-old daughter Ranasia Knight after her former boyfriend Lester Johnson beat her to death.
Bachman thought the girl fell down stairs on January 12, but two days later her boyfriend admitted to punching and kicking her, leaving her blind in one eye and fatally injured.
He was arrested, and Bachman was left to mourn the death of her child. She thought she left her daughter’s body in good hands, after she arranged for her to be cremated, but police knocked on her door on February 1 and said her daughter was one of four found in the basement of a nearby funeral home.
Funeral director Benjamin M. Siar Jr. was paid $400 to cremate Ranasia and deliver her ashes to Bachman.
He did not answer her calls and made excuses for the delay.
“This man knew all the stuff I’m going through,” she said. “It’s bad enough that I had to lose my daughter to a murder. This man came to my house. This man told me my daughter was in good hands.”
Ranasia’s remains have since been cremated by the Groffs Family Funeral and Cremation Services Inc. free of charge. Bachman wears some of her ashes around her neck in a locket.
The other three bodies left to decompose were those of Rosa Kleinhaus, 76, M. Elizabeth Zug, 97, and Sandra J. Hotchkiss, 71.
The funeral director is being held in Lancaster County Prison and faces multiple charges, including abuse of a corpse and theft by deception.
A 24-count complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs could also cost Siar hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and his license.
Officials raided his funeral home when people began complaining about not receiving their loved ones’ remains.
Press secretary for the PA Department of State, Ron Runman, said: “Among other things, they have alleged this individual has violated the act through a gross incompetence, misconduct and negligence and carrying on the duties of being in a funeral director, in addition to some other charges.”