The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 13, 2009

Man sues funeral home, casket company

A grieving Atlanta father who said he suffered a series of indignities while trying to bury his stepson is suing a Somerset County funeral home and a casket maker.

W. Robert Baynes is taking to court Allegheny Heartland Casket, owner Kimball Sweatt and Mason Funeral Home, all of Tire Hill, and former Mason employee David E. Lehman of Davidsville.

It began in November 2005 when Baynes contracted with Mason Funeral for a solid brass casket to hold the remains of his stepson, George Brown Baynes, at a cost of $5,595.

A placard identified the casket as solid brass.

Unbeknownst to Baynes, he apparently got a steel receptacle instead.

“If the casket had been buried in a cemetery plot, the defendants’ misrepresentations might have gone undetected,” Baynes’ attorneys said in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Johnstown.

Instead, the remains and casket were stored temporarily during the construction of a mausoleum in Georgia.

“Approximately 10 months later, the casket was removed from storage in a temporary mausoleum, revealing that the casket had become rusted and stained and leaked fluids,” the suit

says.

The defendants then shipped a replacement casket, but it didn’t fit the mausoleum, the lawsuit claims. George Baynes and his new casket were returned to temporary storage.

“(Robert) Baynes was forced, at his own expense, to redesign and reconstruct the mausoleum to fit the replacement casket for the deceased’s final resting,” according to the suit.

Breach of contract and unfair trade practices are among Baynes’ allegations. He is seeking to recoup the price of the casket, costs to redesign and rebuild the mausoleum and temporary storage costs after the casket was found to have leaked.

He is seeking treble damages of more than $75,000.

A manager for Mason Funeral said the home would have no comment.

Lehman could not immediately be reached.

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