Thursday, June 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Family Says Funeral Home Workers Smirked

DALLAS (CN) - A Dallas funeral home botched a burial so badly the casket overturned and mourners were injured when they frantically jumped into the grave, a family claims in court.

Lead plaintiff Deborah Medellin sued Laurel Land Funeral Home and Cemetery, in Dallas County Court.

Medellin's husband died in May. At his funeral and burial, two Laurel Land employees were in charge of lowering the casket into the grave.

"However, the belt holding the casket had not been properly attached to the said casket, and, without warning, began to slip," the complaint states. "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 says they feared the body would fall from the casket, so three of them jumped into the grave to right the casket.

"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," the complaint states. "[Plaintiffs] Ovidio Medellin, Renee Delgado and Ovidio Olivo suffered serious and potentially permanent injuries as a result of the negligence of the defendant."

The family claims Laurel Land failed to adequately train its employees and failed to adequately strap and stabilize the casket.

Kelvin Chamberlain, executive director of Laurel Land, told Courthouse News on Monday that the home cannot comment due to the pending lawsuit.

"We have communicated with the family and have attempted to resolve the issue to the family's satisfaction," Chamberlain said.

The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for deceptive trade and consumer law violations.

They are represented by Lawrence Mealer.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.