Cemetery sued for possibly losing man’s remains or placing them in wrong grave

By Louisiana Record reports | May 11, 2015

GRETNA – A Gretna cemetery is being sued by the family of a man they believe was buried on top of another person’s remains or lost altogether rather than being placed in a burial plot he had purchased four decades earlier.

Sylvia G. Pearson Chagnard, Sheldon W. Guthrie Jr., Keith J. Guthrie, Vernon Chagnard, Kim Guthrie, Lisa Guthrie and Vivian Boudreaux Guthrie filed suit against Restlawn Park Cemetery Inc., Lary J. Chedotal Jr., Betty O. Chedotal, Rebecca C. Miller and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on March 26.

The plaintiffs claim their father and husband Sheldon W. Guthrie fully purchased two side-by-side burial plots in 1974 at the Restlawn Park Cemetery located at 1708 Hancock St. in Gretna that were meant for he and his wife Vivian Boudreaux Guthrie. Following his death on Jan. 26, 2015 Guthrie’s burial ceremony was held at Restlawn on Jan. 30, 2015 in a centrally located space and the family alleges they did not see Guthrie’s casket lowered into the funeral plot he had purchased over four decades before.

It was not until Feb. 9, 2015 that Guthrie’s daughter, Sylvia G. Pearson Chagnard, asserts she returned to the cemetery with a headstone and was told Guthrie could not be buried in the plot he had previously purchased due to a tree root that had grown in the area. Chagnard claims the defendants at first could not locate her father’s burial spot and when they finally did it appeared he had been buried in a plot that already contained the remains of someone else and that in addition there was not an empty plot next to him for their mother. In addition, the plaintiffs claim the decision to move Guthrie’s remains to another plot was done without their consent which is required by law and that they believe his remains were moved more than once without their approval. The plaintiffs allege that it is possible that their father’s remains may have been lost by the defendants.

The defendant is accused of breach of duty, violation of state law, fraud and failing to honor contractual terms.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for emotional distress, anguish, embarrassment, humiliation and grief.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Roland M. Vandenweghe Jr. of New Orleans.

The case has been assigned to Division O Judge Danyelle M. Taylor.

Case no. 748-084.

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