The family of a Las Vegas woman killed in a murder-suicide is suing a funeral home for negligence after she was “accidentally” cremated.
Loren Chavez, 41, was fatally shot by her husband, who then took his own life in September. The family made arrangements with Davis Funeral Homes & Memorial Park and planned an open casket funeral before burying her at the nearby cemetery.
But when Chavez’s parents dropped off clothes for their daughter’s body, the funeral home told them she wasn’t in the system. After leaving, the funeral home called them back and asked them to return because of an “emergency,” the lawsuit said.
When they arrived, her parents were taken into a private room and told an employee mistakenly cremated her, the lawsuit said.
The family’s attorney, Christian Morris, told Law & Crime that what happened is “unforgivable.” The funeral home has policies that differentiate those bodies that are to be prepared for a funeral and burial and those that are supposed to be cremated, the lawsuit states. Multiple employees failed in their duties, according to the lawsuit.
“This is something that should never happen, and there are so many checks and balances in place to prevent it from occurring,” Morris said. “It’s unfathomable that this is just an ‘accident’ like they told her parents. Bodies deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Chavez’s family suffered “extreme emotional, psychological, and mental suffering and distress” and caused her son to seek counseling, the lawsuit stated. Morris said the funeral home violated the family’s trust.
“The most egregious part of this is that her son, her sister, her parents, her brother never got to say goodbye to her and are robbed of the hope that they can be together in the afterlife because the funeral home desecrated her body and soul,” Morris said.
The lawsuit names Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park, Legacy Funeral Holdings of Nevada LLC. and other connected companies.
Mike Wilfong, general manager for Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that staff members are doing “everything we can” to rectify the situation.
Chavez’s older sister Delia Salcido told the Review-Journal that Chavez “would light up a whole room” when she entered. Finding out about the cremation was like her sister being killed again, she said.
“It’s still a struggle to cope, and we weren’t able to have that peace to see her one more time and pray over her and have a place to visit her,” Salcido told the newspaper.
The lawsuit seeks more than $15,000, plus attorney’s fees.
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