COLUMBIA — The lawsuit a Columbia woman filed against Warren Funeral Chapel in August has been certified as a class-action lawsuit, which means any funeral home client from the past five years might be invited to join the case.
Kathy Johnson filed a lawsuit against Harold Warren Sr., Harold Warren Jr. and John Doe Turner, the owner of Rock Bridge Cemetery, for allegedly mishandling her mother’s funeral and burial. She also seeks punitive damages for the mental anguish caused by the Warrens' and Turner's negligence, according to the petition.
In March 2006, Johnson made arrangements for her mother’s funeral and burial with Warren Funeral Chapel.
When Johnson could not locate her mother’s grave in Rock Bridge Cemetery, she talked to the Warrens and Turner, according to the petition. They said her mother’s remains might have been cremated or might not have been buried at all, according to the lawsuit.
Judge Gene Hamilton certified the lawsuit as a class action on Feb. 25.
Johnson’s Jefferson City attorney, Pete Nacy, is in the process of locating others who used the Warrens for funeral services and who would be interested in joining the suit.
Nacy said "several people" had already joined the lawsuit but that the final number of plaintiffs would not be known until May or June.
Dan Viets, who is representing the Warrens, said he "didn't think it's a big deal," and that the class-action lawsuit will not complicate the case.