CAUSE NO.

TA-TALINDA BAIN, TYE STERLING, KIMBERL Y BYERS, VALERIE COHEN, LORRIE DENSON, ANGELA NICKOLS, AND CLAUDE STERLING, Plaintiffs, vs. GONZALEZ FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORY, INC.; S.E. FUNERAL HOMES OF TEXAS,INC.; GLOBAL MORTUARY AFFAIRS, LLC; J.E. KEEVER MORTUARY, Defendants.

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PLAINTIFFS' ORIGINAL PETITION WITH REQUEST FOR DISCLOSURE TO THE HONORABLE JUDGE OF SAID COURT: NOW COME Ta- Talinda Bain, Tye Sterling, Kimberly Byers, Valerie Cohen, Lorrie Denson, Angela Nickols, and Claude Sterling ("Plaintiffs") and complain of Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, S.E. Funeral Homes of Texas, Inc., Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC, and J.E. Keever Mortuary, and for cause of action would show the following:
I.

DISCOVERY LEVEL Plaintiffs intend to conduct discovery under Level 3 of Rule 190 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and requests the Court enter a Scheduling Order. II. PARTIES Plaintiff Ta- Talinda Bain is a resident of Shawnee County, Kansas, and is the natural daughter of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Tye Sterling is a resident of San Bernardino County, Texas, and is the natural son of Sheila Sterling, Deceased.
Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure ~ Page 1

Kimberly Byers is a resident of Dallas County, Texas, and is the natural sister of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Valerie Cohen is a resident of Hardin County, Kentucky, and is the natural sister of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Lorrie Denson is a resident of San Bernardino County, California, and is the natural sister of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Angela Nickols is a resident of Dallas County, Texas, and is the natural sister of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Claude Sterling is a resident of Jackson County, Missouri, and is the natural brother of Sheila Sterling, Deceased. Defendant Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. is a Texas for-profit corporation with its principle place of business at 3050 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75247-6105. This Defendant may be served by and through its registered agent, Frank Gonzalez, at 3050 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75247. Defendant S.E. Funeral Homes of Texas, Inc. is a Texas for-profit corporation with its principle place of business at 1333 S. Clearview Parkway, Jefferson, LA 70121. This Defendant may be served by and through its registered agent, CT Corporation System, 350 N. St. Paul St., Suite 2900, Dallas, Texas 75201-4234. Defendant Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC is a Texas for-profit limited liability

corporation with its principle place of business at 424 S. Bryan Belt Line Road, Mesquite, Texas 75149-5029. This Defendant may be served by and through its registered agent, David

Patterson, 3608 Hilltop Circle, Rockwall, Texas 75087-5315.

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 2

Defendant J.E. Keever Mortuary, Inc. is a Texas for-profit corporation with its principle place of business at 408 North Dallas, Ennis, Texas 75119. This Defendant may be served by and through its registered agent, David Keever, 408 North Dallas, Ennis, Texas 75119. III. JURISDICTION AND VENUE Jurisdiction is proper in this Court because the amount limits of this Court. Jurisdiction
in

controversy

exceeds the the

minimum jurisdictional

is further proper because

Defendants are Texas corporations conducting for-profit activities inside the state of Texas. This Court has venue over the parties to this action since the acts which form the basis of the lawsuit occurred in Dallas County, Texas. Venue, therefore, is proper in Dallas County pursuant to TEX. CIV. PRAC.& REM. CODEANN. 15.002(a)(1). IV.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On or about September 4, 2011, Sheila Sterling passed away at Methodist Mansfield Hospital. At the time of her death, Ms. Sterling was survived by her two natural children, Tye Sterling and Ta-Talinda Bain, and her sisters and brother, Kimberly Byers, Valerie Cohen, Lorrie Denson, Angela Nickols, and Claude Sterling. The family members selected Defendant

Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. (hereinafter "Defendant Gonzalez") to assist with the funeral and cremation services of their beloved family member. Because some of Ms. Sterling's immediate family were out of town at the time of her death, Ms. Sterling's family made the decision to hold the funeral services on the following Saturday, September 10, 2011, to allow the out of town family members the opportunity to safely travel to Dallas, Texas for the funeral services. The family also planned an open-casket viewing

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure ~ Page 3

to occur before the larger funeral ceremony to allow the immediate family members to pay their final respects before having Ms. Sterling's body cremated. On Saturday morning at approximately 7:30 am, Plaintiff Angela Nickols received a telephone call from Roland De Los Santos, an officer of Defendant Gonzalez, who advised there was a problem. Mr. De Los Santos further stated that the family would be unable to view Ms. Sterling's body, but he refused to give further explanation stating the Plaintiffs would "receive an explanation during the scheduled 9:30 am meeting that same morning." At approximately 9:40 am, a meeting was held between Ms. Sterling's sisters, Plaintiffs Cohen, Nickols, Denson, and Byers, Roland De Los Santos, Albert Anthony Gonzalez, Sr. (officers of Defendant Gonzalez), and the owner of Defendant Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC (hereinafter "Defendant Global"). At that meeting, Ms. Sterling's sisters were advised

something along the lines ofthe following: On the evening prior, Mr. De Los Santos was beginning to prepare Ms. Sterling's remains for the viewing which was planned for the following morning. When Ms. Sterling's remains were removed from the cooler, it was discovered that the remains which were believed to be Ms. Sterling's were actually those of a white male and not a black female. An investigation was initiated to attempt to locate Ms. Sterling's remains. Based upon a process of elimination investigation, it was believed that during transport, another call came in to the transporter, and the remains of a white male were also picked up in the same vehicle as Ms. Sterling's remains. The two bodies were mixed up, and Ms. Sterling's remains were delivered to J .E. Keever Mortuary, Inc. (hereinafter "Defendant Keever") instead of Defendant Gonzalez. Upon contacting Defendant Keever, it was believed that Ms. Sterling's remains had already been cremated. The representatives of Defendant Gonzalez and Defendant Global provided Ms.

Sterling's sisters with cremated remains and stated that "as close as they could tell, after a process of elimination, the remains may be those of Ms. Sterling." However, they refused to say so with 100% certainty, because "they were not really sure." Presently, the Plaintiffs still have no clue whether the cremated remains they were given were Ms. Sterling's cremains.
Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 4

v.
CAUSES OF ACTION AGAINST DEFENDANTS Negligence Plaintiffs incorporate the preceding facts as though fully stated herein. On the occasion in question, the Defendants Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC, and l.E. Keever Mortuary were guilty of negligence. The

Defendants had a duty to use reasonable care in providing the funeral services and preparing Ms. Sterling's remains for the funeral service by and through their special relationship with the Plaintiffs. The Defendants breached that duty by acts and omissions including, but not limited to, confusing Ms. Sterling's remains with another deceased, mis-identifying Ms. Sterling's

remains, losing Ms. Sterling's remains, allowing Ms. Sterling's remains to be cremated without permission in that they were cremated prior to the funeral services, and possibly even losing Ms. Sterling's remains (and certainly not being 100% assured that the cremains delivered to the Plaintiffs were those of Ms. Sterling). Each of the aforementioned acts and omissions were a proximate cause of the damages suffered by the Plaintiffs. Negligence Per Se Plaintiffs incorporate the preceding facts as though fully stated herein. On the occasion in question, the Defendants were guilty of negligence per se by and through their acts and omissions including, but not limited to, the following: 1. Defendant Keever violated Texas Health and Safety Code § 716.051 by performing a cremation prior to receiving a cremation authorization form and/or a death certificate; 2. Defendant Keever violated Texas Health and Safety Code § 716.102 by failing to provide a proper receipt upon acceptance of Ms. Sterling's remains; 3. Defendants Keever and Gonzalez violated Texas Health and Safety Code § 716.104 by failing to make proper identification of the human remains in their possession;

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 5

4. Defendant Keever violated Texas Health and Safety Code § 716.152 by failing to verify the identification label from Ms. Sterling's cremation container immediately before placing Ms. Sterling's remains in the cremation chamber. Each of the aforementioned acts and omissions were a proximate cause of the damages suffered by the Plaintiffs. Breach of Contract Plaintiffs incorporate the preceding facts as though fully stated herein. On the occasion in question, Defendant Gonzalez committed a breach of the funeral services contract with the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs entered into a contract with Defendant

Gonzalez and paid Defendant Gonzalez for promised funeral services. For all the reasons stated herein, Defendant Gonzalez breached that contract, and the Defendant's breach was a proximate cause of the Plaintiffs' damages for which they now sue. VI. SUCCESSOR LIABILITY Subsequent to the incident made the basis of this lawsuit, on 3/28/12, Defendant Gonzalez was merged into Defendant S.E. Funeral Homes of Texas, Inc. (hereinafter "Defendant S.E. Funeral Homes"). To the extent that Defendant Gonzalez disclaims liability for this

incident on the basis that it has merged with Defendant S.E. Funeral Homes whether due to contractual agreement or otherwise, Plaintiff contends Defendant S.B. Funeral Homes is liable for the actions and omissions of Defendant Gonzalez. VII. DAMAGES Plaintiffs incorporate the preceding facts as though fully stated herein.

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 6

As a direct and proximate result of the occurrence made the basis of this lawsuit, Plaintiffs sustained damages. These include damages that are, in reasonable probability, permanent in

nature. These damages are as follows: 1. Mental anguish in the past and future; 2. Attorney's fees; and 3. Costs of court. VIII. JURY DEMAND Plaintiffs hereby request a trial by jury. IX. REQUEST FOR DISCLOSURE Pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P. 194, Defendants Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, S.B. Funeral Homes of Texas, Inc., Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC, and J .E. Keever Mortuary are requested to disclose to Plaintiffs, no later than fifty (50) days of service of this request, the information or material described in Rule 194.2. WHEREFORE, premises considered, Plaintiffs pray that Defendants be cited to appear and answer herein, and upon final hearing hereof, Plaintiffs have and recover of and from Defendants:
1.

2.
3. 4.

5. 6.

Actual damages of a sum in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of the Court; Pre-judgment interest; Post-judgment interest; Attorney's fees; Costs of court; and Such other and further relief, special or general, at law or in equity, to which Plaintiffs may be entitled.

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 7

Respectfully submitted,

State Bar Howie Law, p.e. 4040 North Central Expressway, Suite 850 Dallas, Texas 75204 214/622-6340; 214/622-6341 Fax ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFFS

Plaintiffs' Original Petition with Request for Disclosure - Page 8

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JOHrJ. F. WAHhi:.h COUNTY CLERK OAl \ f. S comHY

John R. Howie, Jr. A ttornev at Law

June 14,2012

John F. Warren Clerk, Dallas County Courts at Law Civil Division 600 Commerce Street, Suite 101 Dallas TX 75202 Re:

Ta-Talinda Bain, etc. v. Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, lnc., et al.

Dear Mr. Warren: Enclosed for filing is Plaintiffs Original Petition with Request for Disclosure. file-marked copy to our courier. Please issue citations as follows: 1. Defendant Gonzalez Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. may be served by and through its registered agent, Frank Gonzalez, at 3050 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75247. 2. Defendant S.E. Funeral Homes of Texas, Inc. may be served by and through its registered agent, CT Corporation System, 350 N. St. Paul si., Suite 2900, Dallas, Texas 752014234. 3. Defendant Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC may be served by and through its registered agent, David Patterson, 3608 Hilltop Circle, Rockwall, Texas 75087-5315. 4. Defendant J.E. Keever Mortuary, Inc. may be served by and through its registered agent, David Keever, 408 North Dallas, Ennis, Texas 75119. Please return the citations to our office in the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope. Enclosed is our check in the amount of $258.00 to cover your fees. Thank you. Please return a

Enclosure
Howie Law, PC 4040 N. Central Expressway, Suite 850 [t]214.622.6340 or toll free 866.B28.2028 (f] 214.622.6141 Dallas, TX 75204
www.howiclaw.nct