Kathy Johnson files complaint in Warren funeral case

Plaintiffs argue their loved one's bodies were left to decay in a funeral home.

Another dissatisfied client has filed a petition against Warren Funeral Chapel Inc., Harold Warren Sr., Harold Warren Jr. and David Turner, caretaker of the Rockbridge Cemetery.

Warren Funeral Chapel has been accused of mishandling remains after investigators found decaying bodies and other unsanitary conditions.

The petition, filed by Kathy Johnson, comes following Circuit Judge Kevin Crane's ruling to extend the temporary restraining order against Warren Sr. and Warren Jr. on Aug. 11. The temporary restraining order bans Warren Sr. and Warren Jr. from operating a funeral establishment or engaging in the practice of embalming or selling any funeral plan or service, according to court documents.

Johnson and the other members of the class of plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against the funeral home asking for compensation. The plaintiffs claim they have suffered the indignity, embarrassment, insult and outrage of having their loved ones' remains negligently and intentionally mishandled by the defendants, according to court documents.

The next court date is set for Nov. 3, when both sides will advise the judge of the status of the case, said Dan Viets, attorney for the defendants.

The defendants hope to reach a settlement.

"I talk to the attorney general's office every day," Viets said.

If a settlement is reached, the agreement will be put in writing and presented to the judge. If a trial is required, both sides will go into the process of discovery.

"I doubt a trial is going to happen," Viets said.

There is no time limit for the restraining order.

The suit against Warren Sr. and Warren Jr. alleges the two intentionally mishandled the remains of the plaintiffs' relatives. There are two counts against the defendants in the lawsuit: public health, safety and welfare violations and merchandising practices violations, according to court documents.

The suit mentions several bodies found in Warren Sr. and Warren Jr.'s funeral home that were found in violation of funeral codes.

The first body, identified as D.V. in court documents, was admitted to Warren Funeral Chapel on Aug. 10, 2007. The body was delivered to Kinney Mortuary Service and Crematory Inc. for cremation nearly one year later. The body had been embalmed.

An inspection of Warren Funeral Chapel occurred July 11. Upon entering the building, inspectors noted a strong odor throughout the facility and discovered the body of J.H. in an advanced state of decay stored in the electrical room. J.H. was delivered to the funeral home on Sept. 9, 2007, and had never been embalmed. The body was stored in a double body bag, which Warren Sr. opened with his bare hands to show the contents to the inspectors, according to court documents.

During their search, inspectors found a casket containing bodily fluids in the foot end of the casket along with powdered formaldehyde. Inspectors also found the body of W.B., who had died the day before and had not been embalmed. Warren Sr. was working on W.B. with bare hands.

Inspectors revisited the funeral home on July 15 and 16. They found two more bodies, both in violation of funeral codes. In one casket, inspectors found a black garbage bag containing human organs, none of which belonged to the body in the casket. The organs belonged to another body, which had been buried on July 15. Warren Sr. said he had forgotten to bury the organs with the body and was planning on cremating them with the body found in the casket, stated court documents.

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