Family suing Plainview cemetery for moving body - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/15/09

Family suing Plainview cemetery for moving body

By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Thursday a corpse in a Plainview cemetery is being buried for the third time since the woman's death almost two years ago. Guadalupe Lugo Alviar's family is suing the Plainview Cemetery Association for exhuming her body without their permission.

Lugo was first buried in January of 2008 at the Plainview cemetery next to her son. Lugo's daughter Maria Vasquez bought six plots side by side back in the 1990's for the family to be buried in after her brother passed away, but now there are issues as to who owns the plots. "When we had the funeral, I did bring in the deeds and I was assured that she was in the correct plots," she said.

Vasquez says the cemetery notified them almost a year after the funeral that they made a mistake. "It was a surprise when we heard, 10 months later, that there had been an error and I informed them that wasn't acceptable."

Vasquez says her deceased brother's estranged wife at the time of his death claimed she owned the plot Lugo was buried in and showed the Plainview Cemetery Association a receipt for the plot. The cemetery then moved Lugo's remains to a different plot without notifying the family.

Lugo's daughter Laticia found her mother's body had been moved when she came to visit the grave. "We told them ‘No do not touch the body, do not move her, leave her, let her rest in peace.' They went ahead and moved her," said Vasquez.

The new burial site also had a hole almost 20 inches deep and the cemetery failed to fix it even after the family asked them to. "They've been very uncooperative to the point of being rude to us," said Vasquez.

On top of that, Lugo was Catholic so her religious beliefs were ignored when the cemetery removed her body without a priest present. That's when the family decided to file a lawsuit. "We've taken legal action because first she was exhumed without our permission. Those plots are my property and we want to do this so it doesn't happen again," said Vasquez.

Court documents state the family is suing for wrongful disinterment of Lugo's body. According to Texas Health and State Codes the cemetery needed written permission from the family or plot owner before they could remove Lugo's body.

Court documents also say the cemetery was "grossly negligent" and that during an audit procedure and accountant auditor advised the cemetery "that it should destroy its old records, which records were often relied upon to determine plot locations and ownership."

Lugo will now be laid to rest for the final time in Kress where her husband lives. "At this point we've had to exhume her so that we have closure and know for a fact that she is where, where going to let her rest," said Vasquez.

The family with go to court in mid-April in Hale County.

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