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Sons claim burial was bungled

Three brothers sue a funeral home, claiming their mother's body fell from the casket and wasn't properly handled.


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 26, 2000

CLEARWATER -- Three brothers attending their mother's funeral last August watched in horror as the casket accidentally turned over and opened, causing her body to fall out and hit the ground, cutting her head and face.

They said they asked officials at Young's Funeral Home to clean the body and casket before burying Verdelle Dennard, according to court documents. But instead, they say, the body was put back in the "dirty and dented casket" and buried with facial and head wounds.

That is the subject of a lawsuit that the sons -- Carlos Melvin and Leonard and Herman Pittman -- filed against Young Funeral Home recently in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

The three claim the funeral home was negligent by allowing the accident to happen and then in not remedying the situation as requested by the children.

According to the lawsuit, the funeral home interfered with the sons' right "to hold a proper religious ceremony and proper burial for their mother" and "intensified, aggravated and prolonged" their mental shock and grief.

Months later, the sons hired another funeral home to remove their mother's casket from the grave, clean the body and then place it in a new casket.

The casket was then reburied at the Clearwater City Cemetery during a funeral service in March.

Robert Young, the owner of the Clearwater funeral home, said this week that he did not know the lawsuit had been filed.

"This is all news to me," he said.

Young declined to comment, except to say Ms. Dennard's sons did not ask him to clean their mother's body and bury her in a new casket.

Family members declined to comment this week. Calls to their attorney, Eduardo Latour, were not returned.

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