It’s been three years since Sharlotte and Timothy Mott’s young daughter Julie died, but a cruel act of funeral home negligence that made their grief even more profound has led to a San Antonio jury awarding the couple $8 million for their suffering. The Motts had contracted for a cremation of Julie’s body but later discovered that Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries had lost her body. It has never been recovered.
The funeral home negligence lawsuit saw more than its share of accusations. While the Motts charged the company of hiding their use of third-party contractors and negligent security measures, the company’s owners accused the girl’s ex-boyfriend of having stolen the body because he objected to the cremation. They also claimed that her parents had hidden the fact that the boyfriend had been obsessed with her. The jury explicitly dismissed this allegation, as well as another sensational accusation of Satanism raised by an employee at the mortuary services company that had originally embalmed Julie Mott’s body prior to the planned cremation.
The jury decided that the parents were each owed $1.5 million for the mental anguish that they had suffered in the past, and another $2.5 million each for their future pain and suffering, which is in large part blamed on their lack of closure for the grieving process. The funeral home argued in court that it should only be required to pay for the cost of counseling for three years, a sum which they estimated at $125,000. The trial took two weeks and two days and involved extensive jury education about the funeral business, including a demonstration of how bodies are placed in and out of a casket in order to prove that Julie’s body had been stolen. It took the jury less than three hours to decide in the family’s favor and award them $8 million.
Funeral homes are expected to treat the bodies of departed loved ones with respect and care. Mission Park’s own business motto is, “When you trust your loved ones to us, they never leave our care, custody or control.” As the attorney representing the Mott family pointed out about Mission Park, “Whether they lost or mishandled it, it really doesn’t matter. They had custody and control, and they lost her body.”
Funeral home negligence is a traumatic experience. If you or someone you love has been a victim, we can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment to learn how.