Family sues after their mother was cremated against her wishes

The relatives of Joann Stephens, a woman who wanted an open-casket funeral for her mother, have lodged a claim against the Eastlake Mortuary in Phoenix after they accused the funeral home of cremating her remains without permission. Jason Glenn, her son, spoke of the family’s distress in an interview. “We’ve just been a bag of emotions here…You really don’t know how to respond to something like that.”

The lawsuit, submitted to Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, states that the mortuary staff’s behavior was “extreme and outrageous” and that they knew it would cause the family “severe emotional distress.” It also claims that the staff “deliberately, recklessly, or negligently mutilated or interfered with” her body, thus preventing her from a proper internment.

The family was offered an apology and a refund, but the lawsuit states that they were not provided with any proof of the identity of the cremated remains and are unsure if the ashes in their possession are actually those of Joann Stephens.

The family had paid the mortuary to transport and store the remains, dress and style the body, and provide a casket for viewing, and were looking forward to the viewing and memorial service at a local church. But when they arrived at the mortuary, they were informed that there would be no service as the body had been mistakenly cremated the day before.

The claim states that the family, who had traveled from across the country for the service, were “devastated” by the news. Eastlake Mortuary has yet to comment on the incident.