Citation of Case: Brady v. Criswell Funeral Homes, Inc., 916 P.2d 269 (1996).
Facts: On March 14, 1993, Mary D. Brady, the Appellant in this case, suffered the loss of her mother. Her mother was killed in a house
fire. The following day, Appellant’s brother made application and filed it with the state medical examiner’s office to have the Mother’s
remains cremated. The arrangements were made with Appellee, Criswell Funeral Home, Inc. Appellant’s brother swore on the cremation
application that he was the person having the legal authority to dispose of the bodily remains. In fact, there were three children of the
same degree of kinship. According to the statutes, each child did have the legal authority to dispose of the body.
On March 15, 1993, Appellant called the Appellee’s business and spoke with Mr. Stittsworth, an employee. She told Mr. Stittsworth she
wanted the cremation stopped. Stittsworth told Appellant that he would stop the cremation. However, the cremation was carried out on
March 16, 1993. Appellant sued Appellee for negligence and intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Appellee argues
it carried out the cremation as requested by an authorized individual.
Issue #1: Did the funeral home have the proper authority to carry out the cremation?
Issue #2: Did the funeral home act in a reasonable manner after Appellant advised Appellee that she did not agree with the
Reason Issue #1: There is no question that Appellant’s brother was a proper party to arrange for the cremation of the mother’s
body. The statutes do not require consent from every next of kin when a disposition of the body is chosen. It would be impractical to
require a funeral home to investigate the family of the deceased to determine the next of kin, find those people, and obtain their consent
to the requested disposition.
Reason Issue #2: Once the funeral home was made aware of a dispute about how to dispose of the body, it then had a duty to stop the
cremation if possible.