Woman Says TV Show Lost Mom's Bones Digging for Romanov Link
MIAMI (CN) - A woman claims a Univision TV station lost her mother's remains after borrowing them for a show on the Romanov dynasty. Ana Teresa Martin says that at Univision's request, she had her mother disinterred and sent a tibia, a fibia and other items to the TV chain, to see if her family is related to the last Russian czars.
Martin sued Univision, its Miami station 23-WLTV, and two employees, in Miami-Dade County Court.
Martin claims that in late 2004 WLTV's news show "Primer Impacto" broadcast a special report on descendants of Romanovs. Defendant Pablo Padula, a reporter for "Primer Impacto," asked Martin if he could borrow some of her late mother's remains to ascertain if she was a Romanov, Martin says.
"Pablo Padula represented to plaintiff Martin that if she provided him with the human remains of her mother and other personal belongings, defendant Padula and his employer ... would return the human remains and other personal belongings in the same condition as when they were delivered to Padula," the complaint states. "Plaintiff Martin had her mother's body, who had been deceased for over 25 years and is buried in Colombia, South America disinterred at the request and direction of the defendants ... for the purpose of the 'Primer Impacto' special report."
Martin says she sent Univision her mother's fibia and tibia, a lock of hair, family photos, her mother's passport photo, and handwriting samples from her mother and herself.
"Defendant Pablo Padula then shipped the human remains to an anthropologist at the University of Florida for the purpose of conducting DNA analysis," the complaint states.
Martin says the remains were sent back to Univision's station in Miami, where they stayed in Padula's possession.
"After the airing of the show, plaintiff Martin periodically communicated with defendants ... trying to determine when and how her mother's remains and personal belongings would be returned to her," the complaint states.
But, "It was not until shortly after July 3, 2007 that plaintiff Martin found out that defendants Univision Communications Inc., Univision Network Ltd. Partnership, Pablo Padula and [defendant] Pilar Campos [producer of 'Primer Impacto'] were maintaining they had no obligation to plaintiff Martin."
Padula was fired less than a year after the show aired and "up to the present defendant Pablo Padula continues to insist that plaintiff's mother's remains and personal belongings were left by him at the premises of defendants," Martin says.
Martin seeks damages for negligence, vicarious liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent misrepresentation, conversion and breach of contract.
She is represented by Joseph Perea with the Kaba Law Group of Hialeah.
Czar Nichols II and his immediate family were killed by Bolsheviks in the cellar of a house in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in July 1918. But the bones of Princess Anastasia and Prince Alexei were not found in the grave that was exhumed in 1991.
By then the whereabouts of Anastasia, and a continuing series of pretenders who claimed to be her, had become legend. Anastasia remains a legend, though her remains, and those of her brother, were found nearby in 2007, and determined by DNA testing to be those of the Romanov siblings.