Jury rules funeral homes must pay $7500 per body over botched burials

Jury rules funeral homes owe $7500 per body over botched burials

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County jurors decided more than a dozen Memphis-area funeral homes should pay $7,500 per body over mishandled burials at Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett.

Those payouts will go to roughly 1,200 families.

For many plaintiffs at the week-long trial, it’s not enough.

"To tell me that my father's memory, not just my father, all of these people's loved ones memories is just worth change. I don't even worry about the money. I want them shut down," Sandra Hobson said.

Testimony in the trial started after Labor Day. Monday, the jury found the funeral homes breached a fiduciary duty, or a relationship of trust, with the nearly 1,200 plaintiffs.

But they assigned 99 percent of the fault with Galilee and one percent with the funeral homes.

"My daughter is out there now with a flag," April Hawthorne said. "She's got a flag; she ain't got no tombstone."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs pressed the jury for $2.5 to 5 million each in damages for each body. Lawyers for the funeral homes presented a figure of $5,000 each. The jury returned its figure of $7,500 in 30 minutes.

"No amount of money can compensate for a loss," Akilah Wofford said.

Wofford is the lead plaintiff. She's starting a Facebook group and foundation to raise funds to build a memorial for the families.

Lawyers declined to formally comment after the verdict, citing additional legal filings that will be required.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs also hinted they will likely appeal.

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