Families file lawsuit after grandmother buried in other woman's grave

HOUSTON—Two families are joining together to file a lawsuit after one grandmother was accidentally buried in the other woman's place.

"I guess what we're both just seeking is justice for our mother," said Donald Deason.

The Deason and Lawson families met for the first time Friday morning, but they already shared a strange bond. Both just lost their mothers, Edna Lawson and Pearlie Jean Deason, strong women in their 80s. Now both families are left feeling the same way.

"I don't like the way my mother left this world," said Bruce Lawson.

It started when Bruce Lawson went to view his mother's body at Mabrie Memorial Mortuary. He said the body didn't look like mom.

"I said, 'Is it possible that maybe you have the wrong person, you have the wrong body maybe somebody else is there?' And she looked in my eyes very adamant, very sure. She said, 'We don't make those kind of mistakes,'" Lawson said.

Trusting the embalming had changed her appearance, the family went ahead with the funeral and burial. Two days later, they got a pair of stunning phone calls.

"That they, in fact, found my mother's body in the funeral home," said Lawson.

"'We made a mistake. We prematurely buried your mother,'" said Donald Deason, describing the news they received.

Mabrie Memorial had mixed up the two bodies. Mrs. Deason had to be exhumed from Mrs. Lawson's shared plot with her husband at Houston National Cemetery.

By the time the Deasons viewed their mother's body before her funeral, Donald said, "She was in a state of decomposing and that's what's in our minds, seeing our mother in that condition."

Now the two families are joining to file a lawsuit, accusing Mabrie Memorial of gross negligence.

"It would have been simple to just check," said Lawson.

They're trying to move forward, but can't help feeling their families, and their mothers, were robbed of a proper goodbye with the dignity they deserved.

"We finally got my mother buried, but she missed her funeral," said Lawson. "She was a loving person, caring person and she touched many lives while she was here. So we just felt that she should have had better."

Mabrie Memorial Mortuary released the following statement to KHOU11:

Two weeks ago, Mabrie Memorial Mortuary inadvertently mistook the body of Edna Lawson for another person also left in our care. The other body was buried in Mrs. Lawson's grave site on July [29], 2014, while Mrs. Lawson remained in our facilities. The other body has been exhumed and properly buried. Mrs. Lawson has also been properly buried in her grave site next to her family members.

When Mabrie Memorial Mortuary discovered the mix up, we immediately contacted the affected families, apologized for the error, and took all appropriate steps to rectify the situation. We have also taken steps to insure that a similar situation does not happen in the future. The check presented for payment for our services by the Lawson family has not been cashed and will be returned to the family. No payment has been made to Mabrie Memorial Mortuary by the other family involved and none will be charged or accepted. Mabrie Memorial Mortuary has been a community partner for over 17 years providing memorial services to and quality healing experiences for families in the Houston area. We deeply regret that the families involved had to endure this temporary delay in properly transitioning their loved ones.


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