A West Virginia family has filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court against the now closed Bartlett-Burdette-Cox Funeral Home in Charleston. The family of Madeline Yost claims the funeral home switched her body with the body of Margaret Fraser back in January of this year. A service was held for Ms. Fraser displaying the remains of Ms. Yost. Even though the Fraser family complained to the funeral home that the remains in the casket didn’t look like Margaret, they were assured it was her in the casket. “Nevertheless, [funeral home] staff members told Ms. Fraser’s family that the body was in fact their loved one and that the lack of resemblance was due to the embalming process,” according to the legal documents filed in the case. And the staff ignored the potential mix up to the point of burying Ms. Yost in the grave prepared for Ms. Fraser.
In fact, it wasn’t until the funeral home staff began preparing for Ms. Yost’s funeral that they realized they no longer had her body. “At that point, the horrible truth was realized: Defendants had wrongfully displayed the body of Ms. Yost at Ms. Fraser’s funeral and then buried her in Ms. Fraser’s grave,” the complaint states.
Locally owned and operated for many decades, the funeral home had been sold in the late ‘90’s. At the time of Ms. Yost’s death it was owned and operated by Service Corporation International. According to their website, they are North America’s largest single provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services and based out of Houston, Texas. Notably, SCI has been involved in lawsuits in Florida and California for removing remains to dumpsites to make room for more bodies in their facilities. The California case was a class action suit that involved over 25,000 families and was settled for $80 million dollars.