Jury Finds Lubbock Funeral Home Negligent - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/19/08

Jury Finds Lubbock Funeral Home Negligent

A Lubbock County Jury awarded the family of Esther Riley nearly $730,000 Tuesday, after they found White Funeral Home negligent in the way it handled Riley's body more than five years ago.

Debbie Bartholomew filed a civil suit against White Funeral Home, after her mother's burial back in April of 2003. Bartholomew claims Director Gary White embalmed her mother's body when the family said not to.

In a copy of the jury charge obtained by NewsChannel 11, members say the funeral home did not follow through on its duty to Bartholomew and her father James Riley.  Though members do say Bartholomew is partially to blame for damages against her father and herself.

The jury awarded Riley just more than $504,000.  Bartholomew received $225,000.  Attorney Travis Ware says he is pleased with the jury's decision. "We appreciate the jury's verdict, and the time that they invested in this case. It was an important case, and the jury saw it as such and they took the time," Ware said. 

The family was seeking $4 million for mental anguish and damages. Bartholomew also claims the body White Funeral Home buried in her mother's casket was not her mother. According to funeral home records the body inside her mother's casket is five inches taller than her mother.

Bartholomew filed a complaint with the Texas Funeral Commission. They reviewed the case in May of 2004, and her mother's body was apparently excavated in 2006, but Bartholomew says testing was inconclusive. White Funeral Home can still appeal the jury's decision.

NewsChannel 11 Investigates
NewsChannel 11 is digging deeper than just the news of the day, bringing you stories that no one else will do.  We have discovered some things in Lubbock you should know about.  See what Cecelia Jones has uncovered.

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