Family sues cemetery after burial plot mix up

Kelly Holleran Nov. 18, 2008, 12:00pm

Live Oak Cemetery on West Port Arthur Road

The family of two recently deceased men has filed suit against Live Oak Cemetery, alleging one of its family members was not buried in the correct plot and another family member is not able to be buried next to his father because of the mistake.

Vera Waters, the wife and mother, and Connie Beal and Sheila, Byron and Ronald Waters, the children, claim their husband and father, Lonnie Waters, died on June 9, 2003, and was supposed to be buried in one of two plots at Live Oak Cemetery on June 14, 2003.

But after Lonnie's and Vera's son, Donald, died on March 22, they found Lonnie's grave "dug up and greatly disturbed," the complaint filed on Nov. 12 in Jefferson County District Court states.

Donald was supposed to be buried next to his father, but when his family arrived at the cemetery on March 29, they found the casket and grave-side service was set up in the mausoleum, according to the suit.

The family claims it asked cemetery personnel why the service was not grave-side and they were told it was normal procedure to hold services in the mausoleum until the grave could be prepared.

That is when they wandered over to Lonnie's grave site, discovered it was dug up and found no grave prepared for Donald, according to the complaint.

They later learned the Lonnie's headstone was not at his grave, his grave was not in the purchased plot and there was not plot for Donald beside his father, the suit states.

"In fact, several bodies were buried in the wrong graves," the suit states. "Plaintiffs were told that Donald's casket was going to be stacked in the mausoleum until a grave became available for Donald's body and that it was unlikely he would be buried next to his father."

In addition, the cemetery did not properly maintain the plots and the cemetery grounds, the family alleges.

Because of the incident, the family claims it has suffered severe mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of the benefit of their purchases.

Live Oak Cemetery misled the family because it represented that its services had characteristics they did not, represented it services were of a particular quality that they were and advertised services with the intent not to sell them as advertised, according to the complaint.

In addition, the cemetery represented that an agreement confers or involves rights it does not and failed to disclose information about goods or services at the time of the transaction, the suit states.

The family is seeking unspecified actual and exemplary damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest, court costs and other relief to which they are entitled.

Kenneth W. Lewis of Bush Lewis in Beaumont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffied of the 136th District Court.

Case No. D182-700

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