The Texas Supreme Court recently reversed a $3.8 million judgment and set aside the jury verdict in a lawsuit brought by a San Benito family against the cemetery that removed the family’s loved one’s remains from the burial plot and moved them to another location without the family’s permission. The verdict and judgment stems from Mont Meta Memorial Park’s and its owners’ actions in double-selling the plot to the Guerra family, in burying the body of Marcos Guerra in the wrong space, and in the later removal of his body to another grave site without his widow’s permission. The wife and three daughters of Marcos Guerra brought the lawsuit against Service Corporation International (“SCI”) and SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc. (“SCI Texas”) doing business as Mont Meta Memorial Park.
The Guerra family filed the suit in 2003 and a jury rendered a $6.3 million dollar verdict in favor of the Guerra family in 2007. On appeal to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, the jury’s verdict was reduced to $3.8 million after applying the statutory caps that were not applied at the trial court; however, the judgment in favor of the Guerra’s remained intact. SCI and SCI Texas then appealed the case to the Texas Supreme Court. The Texas Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment that the three Guerra daughters are entitled to nothing, despite the unequivocal jury finding to the contrary. The Texas Supreme Court then held that the damages awarded to the widow are reversed and that the widow will have to start all over in a new trial. The Guerra daughters will not even get a new trial.
This is yet another example of the Texas Supreme Court aligning itself with the interests of big business and the insurance lobbies.