2 Pa. women seek mom's exhumation in Ohio lawsuit

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- Two Pennsylvania women are seeking exhumation of their dead mother in an Ohio lawsuit accusing a funeral home of stitching her eyes and mouth shut during the embalming process, according to court records.

Mary Jane Patton, of New Castle, and Lilly May Curtis of Greenville, asked a judge in Youngstown to order the exhumation of Rose White so her body can be examined by an expert. White was a Youngstown native who died at age 93 in 2008, and she was buried in a cemetery in nearby Boardman.

The (Youngstown) Vindicator reported that in 2011 the women sued the Shriver-Allison-Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home, as well as a body transport company and one of its employees. It accuses them of mishandling the body.

In affidavits, family members said they saw stitching of the dead woman's eyes and mouth, which they claim breached their contract with the funeral home. "Horrifying the family was visible stitching to the eyes and mouth with dark thread," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also contains numerous complaints of rudeness and undignified behavior by those handling the arrangements.

The funeral home had sought unsuccessfully to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis that it is untimely and doesn't contain any claim for which relief can be granted by the court.

The funeral home's attorney, Kurt R. Weitendorf of Akron, said it didn't do anything wrong but won't oppose the exhumation request.

"We feel sorry for the death and sorry they feel something went wrong, but there was nothing improper done by (the funeral home or transport company)," Weitendorf told the newspaper Monday.

The man whom the funeral home cited as the embalmer of White's body said in a deposition that that he didn't recall doing so. He also said that if her eyes were stitched shut, he would conclude that he didn't embalm her.

A lawsuit mediation session is set for Jan. 10.

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Information from: The Vindicator, http://www.vindy.com