Jerry Jeffery was buried in a shady plot near a bench in the Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville. To his family, it seemed like the perfect spot to spend eternity.
So, imagine their surprise when the funeral home called two days later and said Jeffery had been placed in the wrong plot — near someone from another family — and would have to be moved.
“She was shocked,” Dallas attorney Brett Stalcup said of Jeffery’s widow, Leah. “She had been married to this man for 50 years and then she got the call …”
Jeffery was eventually moved to another plot in the cemetery and the funeral home has promised to plant a tree and place a bench nearby.
But the Grapevine family is now suing the funeral home in Tarrant County civil court, accusing them of deceptive trade practices, fraud and breach of contract for selling them a burial plots that were already owned by someone else. The family is seeking at least $200,000 in damages.
A spokesman at Bluebonnet Hills in Colleyville said he was “unaware of the lawsuit” and referred calls to CT Corp, the corporate parent of Bluebonnet Hills. Representatives of the firm in Houston and Dallas also declined to comment.
Jeffery, who worked as an architect in Irving, died on May 22, according to court documents. The family went to Bluebonnet Hills and signed a contract for more than $16,000 for two burial plots and funeral services. Jeffery was buried on May 27, according to the lawsuit.
Two days later, however, Leah Jeffery received a phone call from someone at Bluebonnet Hills telling her that it had already sold the four burial plots where Jerry Jeffery was buried to another family and that “one of those plots already had a decedent buried in it,” court records show.
The funeral home employee told the widow that her husband would need to be removed and reinterred at another location, the lawsuit states.
This news “devastated” the family and they initially insisted that it not be done. About a month later, Leah Jeffery and her son were told by the funeral home that they were trying to contact the other family but had been unable to locate the family members, court records show. The lawsuit states that the funeral home never provided the family with any additional updates.
Eventually, on July 30, Jerry Jeffery was moved to another location that was “nowhere similar” to what the family originally chose. Stalcup said the family was notified prior to the reinterrment and eventually didn’t protest moving him. “They wanted him in the right place,” he said.
“I went out there when they moved him from one grave to the next. It was crazy,” Stalcup said. “It was raining and very unceremonial and matter-of-factly done.”
In the lawsuit, the family accuses Bluebonnet Hills of an “unconscionable … course of action” and of making “material false representations” with a “reckless disregard for the truth.” Such actions caused the family a “high degree of mental pain and distress,’ the lawsuit states.