Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Galilee Cemetery near Memphis Lawsuit for Horrors

Galilee Memorial Garden’s Cemetery ALLEGED Abuses Abound
Jemar Lambert is in jail, and grieving families are reeling from the alleged abuses that apparently took place at Galilee Cemetery in Bartlett, Tennessee: 
-Abuse of corpses;  
-Stacking caskets in the same gravesite;
-Burying more bodies in an already full cemetery;
-Crushing caskets with a backhoe;
-Breach of contract to bury remains;
-Unauthorized burying on other’s land. 
Way back in 2010, the State of Tennessee said the Cemetery was full.  But so-called “burials” continued uninterrupted until January, 2014, when the State shut down the cemetery.  
A receiver, the well-respected U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, has been appointed to take over what can only be described as a “crime scene.”
Many families were apparently asked to leave following funerals before the casket was lowered into the grave. If this strikes you as odd, that’s because it is.  I have spoken at seven funerals, including that of my own mom and dad, and the final act of the funeral director was to put the flowers on the mound of dirt.  This apparently, did not happen in many cases at Galilee Cemetery. 
Some multi-million dollar lawsuits seeking certification as a class have been filed. However, no one is sure which, if any, will be certified as a class at this point. Breach of contract with both the cemetery and funeral directors seem actionable. 
But the effects on the families may not be fully remedied by that award. Punitive damages may also be awarded if things are as they now appear to be.  However, emotional distress is very subjective claim for damages, and that may make some of the class actions harder to certify. 
In some cases, individual cases may offer a better alternative than class action, even if a class is certified.  Classes always have an opt-out option. 
Grieving families contacting me are all telling very similar stories.  It is a nightmare on top of an incalculable loss. 




Wrongful Death Law in Tennessee governs the recovery of money damages when a loved one is killed due to negligence, such a car crash, accidental firearms discharge or an ATV accident. 

I understand why people say that money won’t bring back a loved one. However, money does allow the heirs the freedom to deal with their loss in the ways that seem best to them.  If that means having the largest gravestone in the cemetery, fine. If that means a trip to Europe, okay. If that means taking a year off without working, okay. I have had clients set aside a scholarship, honoring the name of the decedent.

Death in accidents sometimes occurs immediately. But, most often, some medical care is tried to save the victim. Many times, days pass in ICU. Thus, the family is often left with mountains of medical bills.

For example, a recent airlift from Tipton County to the Med was over $16,000. These medical bills from the injury prior to death are recoverable by the heirs. Of course, reasonable funeral bills are also recoverable. If wages were missed between the injury and the death later on, those can be sought.
What Tennessee calls the “pecuniary value of life” is often the most valuable part of any award, verdict or settlement. Roughly, it contains the idea of actually valuing a life, which is exceedingly hard to do.

So how do we value a life in Tennessee? The most obvious number is the loss of income for the life that was taken away.  Even a regular worker, making $25,000 a year for an expected 40 years will earn a million dollars!  However, it is important to understand that no one will award that number without some additional figuring.

As we all know, we do not keep all we earn. Much is spent paying for living. This amount, called “personal maintenance,” must be deducted to get that value. But we also know that life is more than money. What about companionship?  The loss involves the permanent (earthly) end to loving and supportive relationships in the family.

Let’s say a sleeping truck driver hits a young nurse walking on the sidewalk. Further, assume she lived 21 days in ICU before succumbing to her injuries. If she was married, her surviving husband may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company and driver.
The recovery should include the medical and funeral bills, and the 3 weeks of lost nursing income.  Her future earnings (minus the costs of  “personal maintenance” would also be recovered. Finally, the husband would seek the hard-to-value amount of the “loss of the consortium” (marital companionship) of his deceased wife. If they had kids, he can sue in Tennessee on behalf of the children for their loss of a mother in the future years.

Money will not bring back a victim. But it can bring a measure of justice to the family and often provide some peace through financial freedom.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



If your kid embarrassed you on Facebook by posting something a bit too personal, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

This young lady cost her parents a cool $80,000.

First, some legal background: sometimes, settlements of lawsuits contain a “confidentiality clause.”

Often, it is a small point that is only worth a few hundred dollars if you break it.

But, in more sensitive cases, the entire settlement maybe entirely conditioned upon a strict bond of silence. In these cases, they usually make exceptions only for one’s attorneys, the government, and any accountants or financial advisers.

Apparently this young lady’s father, Mr. Snay, had just signed a very strict secret settlement agreement like that. It had to do with alleged age discrimination in his firing, and the Gulliver school district agreed to quietly pay him an $80,000 settlement, and also pay his attorneys.

However, before the ink was even dry, the daughter took to Facebook bragging, “[They] won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."

School officials heard all about almost immediately and indicated they would no longer pay out the money.

The father sued to enforce the agreement and initially won.

But on appeal, the school reversed the lower ruling, and the school can keep the money. The appellate court summed it nicely in its ruling, “His daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent, advertising to the Gulliver community that Snay had been successful in his age discrimination and retaliation case against the school.”

You know what they say, “Kids are expensive.”



When you were in high school, I bet you had a serious run in with your parents. There may have been yelling.  Maybe you even stormed out and threatened to leave for good.  I seriously doubt you took it to the level that one Rachel Canning, age 18, did. She filed an actual lawsuit against her parents suing them for financial support!

She says her parents kicked her out and she is broke. She is demanding the court award her last semester’s tuition at her private Catholic high school, as well as her current living support, attorney’s fees and even her future college tuition. The high school senior has also alleged abuse, but an investigation revealed nothing.

Her parents say she was truant, ignored curfew and hung out with a boy they forbid her to see. 

They say they gave her a choice: their way on the highway.  She chose the real world because she did not like the rules and curfews. I guess she has now realized that money is not a fruit found on her local trees.

Court filings she filed read like a whining, spoiled brat: "They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me, and have redirected my college fund indicating their refusal to afford me an education…”

In what universe is college their obligation? It may be nice, but it is not legally required.

Oddly, this lawsuit is reportedly financed by another set of parents.

No word on whether they are going to finance her college, or just this ridiculous lawsuit. What do you think?