UPDATE: On Thursday, February 7, a Dallas County jury found Restland Funeral Home and Cemetery negligent and awarded Louis Dorfman $200,000 for mental anguish.
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas man is accusing a North Texas funeral home of abuse of a corpse.
He told the CBS 11 I-Team the funeral home moved his parents to a different cemetery without his permission.
“As good as I am at protecting most loved ones in my life, I couldn’t protect those I needed to protect the most,” said Louis Dorfman.
Dorfman’s father, Sam, died in 1957. His mother, Elizabeth, passed away in 1994.
“It’s so sad,” said Dorfman staring at their names on crypts inside a mausoleum at Restland Funeral Home and Cemetery in Dallas.
He says his mother requested they be placed side by side. And that was the case for 20 years.
“That’s where my folks wanted to be for eternity,” said Dorfman.
But in January of 2017, Dorfman, their only surviving son, got this call from his son.
“Dad, did you know your parents have been moved to Sparkman Hillcrest?” Dorfman says he had no idea. “I was astounded, shocked.”
While visiting Dorfman’s brother, who had been placed in a mausoleum at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, they say they discovered Dorfman’s parents placed above and below him.
“And now it hits me like a hurricane that I didn’t protect my parents. Somebody took them, disrupted their eternal rest and moved them.”
A move Dorfman says is not at all in line with his beliefs. “When something sacrilegious is done to those you care for and love, it is so painful,” he said.
Dorfman’s family is Jewish. It’s against their faith to disinter without a reason and without a ceremony. “They put them in a flower van, a van they haul dirt in, and unceremoniously hauled them over and dumped them out at Sparkman Hillcrest.”
Dorfman says without his knowledge, his niece and nephew signed “Cemetery Consent” forms stating there are “no other living relatives that precede me in the degree of kindred; and I give my permission for the body to be disinterred and moved…”
The move put his parents’ crypts at Sparkman Hillcrest above and below their father separating them.
According to Texas State Health and Safety codes, removal of remains requires consent of the next-of-kin.
“There’s no consequence here and that’s what I’m so upset about and that’s what I want the public to understand.”
Dorfman says he wants public awareness and policy change. He wants the funeral home to do more due diligence before taking such drastic measures.
“You pay them to protect your loved ones as you’ve requested,” he said.
He is suing Northstar Funeral Services of Texas, the parent company of Restland Funeral Home and Cemetery, for fraud, negligence and mishandling of a corpse.
He says the management knowingly accepted falsified documents and then filed those with the state. He says Restland knew he existed. He also pushing for criminal charges including abuse of a corpse.
“These are felonies. Lying to Texas is a felony. Representing those documents as true and correct, when it’s not, is a felony. Abuse of a corpse is a felony. …”
The I-Team tried meeting with the manager at Restland to find out why no one reached out to Dorfman. He came out to talk to us but referred us to his attorney. Restland’s attorney has not provided the CBS 11 I-Team a comment. The civil trial is now underway in Dallas County.
Dorfman’s niece referred CBS 11 to a lawyer representing her and her brother. Attorney Jill Tananbaum sent the following statement:
“Sam’s children [Louis’s niece and nephew] wanted to honor their father’s wishes to be buried beside his parents. After consulting with their uncle within minutes of their father’s passing, at their father’s bedside, they asked the hospital to have Sparkman-Hillcrest pick up their father’s remains. They did so at their own considerable expense, motivated solely by love and devotion to their family and their shared desire to have their father and his parents’ remains placed in eternal rest in a beautiful setting. They made this decision after careful consideration and a shared desire to reunite their father and grandparents with many other family members already interred at Sparkman-Hillcrest and closer to everyone’s home and work life.
Louis’s niece and nephew shared a loving and cordial relationship with him at the time they mutually agreed to have their father Sam and their grandparents interred at Sparkman-Hillcrest. Louis gave them his permission and blessing, and they involved him in all aspects of their decision-making including: which funeral home would pick up their father’s remains the day of his death, writing their father’s obituary, inviting Louis and his wife to honor their father by speaking at his memorial service, as well as inviting them to participate in the crypt-side private family ceremony following the service.
To put the facts in context, their grandfather passed in 1957 and was initially buried in Longview, Texas on their family’s ranch. In the early 1980’s, after the ranch was sold, and the burial site was vandalized, his remains were moved to Restland in Dallas. In the late 1980’s his remains were disinterred and reinterred again, in another crypt at Restland. Louis did not sign or pay for any of these dis- or re-interments nor did he then express any distress about the multiple transfers of his father’s remains.
Their grandmother, who had remarried after their grandfather’s passing, was entombed at Restland in 1994.
Louis Dorfman had not visited his parents for at least 14 years before filing this suit.
Louis’s niece and nephew disclosed their uncle’s existence during the first meeting with Restland and provided their uncle’s contact information to Restland
immediately upon request and long before the disinterment took place. They relied on Restland’s expertise; they followed Restland’s instructions.
They have no reason to believe either of their grandparents’ remains were mistreated or abused at any time by Restland. Their relatives are now at peaceful and eternal rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest.”