SEATTLE (AP) — A lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the family of a man who was cremated by mistake and whose casket contained another person — something relatives say they discovered when they opened the casket during the funeral.
Jerry Moon had prepaid Brown Mortuary Service $4,655 for his funeral services, according to a lawsuit filed in Lewis County Superior Court. His lawyer, Shawn Briggs, said Moon didn’t want to be cremated and arranged to be buried in a family plot in Chehalis.
The prepaid services also included embalming, a funeral and a graveside service.
When Moon died Oct. 13, 2013, at a hospice in Longview, the Dahl McVicker Funeral Home was responsible for transporting his body to the Brown Mortuary. No identification bracelet was placed on his body, and Moon’s bracelet was instead placed on another body, the lawsuit said.
The next day, when Moon’s widow, Janice Moon, and family members met with Brown Mortuary representatives, they were given a bill for $8,834.
When the casket was opened at the end of the Oct. 21, 2013, funeral, “guests were horrified by what appeared to be a plastic bag covering the head and face of the body in the casket,” the lawsuit said.
When the bag was removed, family members discovered the body was not that of Jerry Moon.
Moon was 72 and bald. But the man in the casket was 97 and had a full head of hair, the lawsuit said.
Brown Mortuary initially said the body was Moon, but the company later said he had been cremated on Oct. 17, 2013, by mistake, according to the lawsuit. The mortuary later sent a $92.72 refund check to Janice Moon.
The mortuary is part of a funeral service chain owned by Texas-based Service Corporation International. Representative Kim Tarleton said Service Corporation International could not comment due to the pending litigation.
The lawsuit says the mortuary acted fraudulently and with malice in its handling of Jerry Moon’s body and conspired to cover-up the fact that Moon had been mistakenly cremated.
The family is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress.