A family whose loved one was one of eight found at a now closed down Fort Worth mortuary has filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.
The family of Karen Jones filed the lawsuit in Tarrant County on Thursday against Johnson Family Mortuary LLC, Rachel Hardy Johnson, Dondre Johnson and Derrick Johnson.
The suit reveals graphic details about Jones’ condition at the time of her funeral and alleges deceptive trade practices by the funeral home.
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The suit alleges Karen Jones passed away in the spring and her body was taken to Johnson Family Mortuary for viewing, funeral and cremation.
"You go from thinking about good times, to that-what they did to her," said Jones' sister, Connie Mabray. "We’ll never forget that."
The suit states it was Jones’ “express desire to be cremated as she found the idea of decomposition of the body and all of the things associated with that revolting and repellent.”
The suit said that due to insurance issues the family had to raise money for the funeral at a cost of $3,025, which was paid in installments by two of Jones’ sisters, Mabray and Lana Adewusi. The sisters filed the suit with Jones’ son Michael Jones.
The sister say Jones' five adult children and themselves have been overwhelmed with additional grief, after already losing their sister in late March.
"To know that her body was mistreated, that hurts even more, it's like someone took a knife and stabbed us in the back because he sat there in our face and assured us that everything was going to be taken care of," Mabray said.
The suit said the funeral was held in April and that the family and funeral attendees noticed “odd and curious details” including the body’s temperature and fluid on the skin.
After the funeral the family was given a black box represented as the ashes of Jones.
Then in July, the landlord of the mortuary building discovered eight bodies inside. The family said it feared one of the bodies was that of their mother and sister and the Tarrant County Medical Examiner confirmed that several days later.
"She was a human being, she was my sister, she was about something, she was somebody, they treated her like trash, you throw trash in the garage," Adewusi said.
The family’s suit said they suffered out-of-pocket expenses and need expenses for psychiatric care and monitoring and psychological care and counseling as a result of the mortuary’s actions. The sisters say they hope the suit brings them some justice and piece of mind.
"It's going to give us some kind of comfort because we want them to hurt like we hurt," Mabray said. "Take everything away from them. They hurt us, we want them to feel like they have nothing. That was my sister and she was everything to us."
Mabray and Adewusi described Jones as a loving sister, who always brought great joy and laughs to family gatherings. Jones died on March 25 at the age of 55.
The suit describes what attorney Andrew Seibert describes as deceptive trade practices, common law fraud, negligence, breach of contract and damages.
Dondre and Rachel Johnson face seven charges of abuse of a corpse. All charges are misdemeanors. The sisters say the law needs to change, as what happened to their sister deserves felony charges.
The Johnson's criminal attorney declined to comment on the civil suit on Friday.