The Golden Gate Funeral Home may have been featured on TLC’s Best Funeral Ever, but according to a new lawsuit, the reality reportedly was anything but. Proprietor John Beckwith Jr. isn’t the only TLC star to become involved in a lawsuit this year, but his business is facing a multitude of accusations. After skyrocketing to fame via reality television, the Texas mortuary is being sued for the alleged mishandling of human remains.
A new press release revealed that 17 families are bringing suits against the Golden Gate Funeral Home a few months after the Texas Funeral Service Commission first opened an investigation. The law firm of Hales and Sellers is representing most of these families. In fact, 14 individual lawsuits have been filed in the weeks since January 13, in addition to three others that were instigated in 2021. On top of that, more families are preparing to file in the coming days. The Dallas Morning News reported that most of the prosecuting parties are seeking at least $1 million in financial compensation.
The prosecuting families are claiming that the remains of their loved ones were either missing or, as attorney Ryan Sellers noted in a statement, in a “grotesque state of decomposition.” Many families were reportedly forced to view their loved ones in what they say was an unacceptable condition, while others were dismayed to discover that remains had reportedly been discarded. Some individuals even said that the Golden Gate Funeral Home delivered the wrong person’s remains to their funerals.
After the reality program Best Funeral Ever began airing on the TLC network in 2013, the Golden Gate Funeral Home became the go-to business for high-profile funerals. The show featured several extravagant ceremonies, including a funeral for Olympian Ronnie Ray Smith that included his casket making a 100-yard dash (it even received a gold medal upon completion). Other funeral themes included Hollywood, country music, and game shows.
Unfortunately, according to several non-celebrity customers, the Golden Gate Funeral Home allegedly did not treat everyone's loved ones’ remains with the same level of attention. The staff reportedly failed to inform the family of Aldo Busby when his ashes became available in 2018, and his children later said they discovered that the Golden Gate Funeral Home had disposed of the remains without their knowledge or consent.
Another lawsuit claims that the ashes of Felix Thomas Miller were not actually delivered to his family. The Golden Gate Funeral Home holds that two sets of the deceased ashes were given to family members, but his widow was not convinced that the remains she received actually belonged to her late husband. Some families may not have received remains at all: The New York Post stated that one urn contained stones instead of ashes.
In a statement for NBC 5, the Golden Gate Funeral Home chose not to comment on the allegations in a public manner. The defending business simply stated it was gearing up to respond and “defend against these claims in a court of law.”
No trial dates have been set, as more families are planning to come forward. We’ll be sure to keep you updated here on CinemaBlend as this story develops.
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