A jury has awarded a couple $8 million after finding a San Antonio funeral home was negligent in the loss of their daughter’s body before she was to be cremated.
Sharlotte and Timothy Mott were given $1.5 million each for mental anguish suffered in the past, and $2.5 million each for mental anguish that will likely be sustained in the future. The couple wasn’t in court for the verdict on Feb. 13 after a nearly three-week trial against MPII Inc., which does business as Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
“The Motts are happy that they got a jury verdict, but in the end we failed, as we did not find Julie, and that is all that really matters,” said Mark Greenwald, an attorney for the Motts.
Julie Mott died of complications from cystic fibrosis and was to be cremated after her funeral on Aug. 15, 2015. The next day, employees discovered the 25-year-old’s body missing from a damaged casket at Mission Park North. Police haven’t arrested anyone and are still investigating Mott’s disappearance.
Mott’s parents accused the funeral company of hiding its use of outside contractors with unlimited access to its facilities, and that its security codes and locks were outdated.
The company’s owners, Robert and Kristin Tips, denied wrongdoing and accused Mott’s ex-boyfriend of stealing the body. But jurors rejected the allegation that the ex-boyfriend or anyone else stole Mott’s body.
“MPII lost Julie Mott’s body,” said Alex Katzman, an attorney for the Motts. “Whether they lost or mishandled it, it really doesn’t matter. They had custody and control, and they lost her body.”
It’s unclear whether MPII will appeal. A call by the newspaper to defense attorney Ricardo Reyna was not immediately answered.
Greenwald said the jury verdict is bittersweet.
“This isn’t about the money,” he said. “It’s not going to return their daughter.”
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