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Judge Rules Against Mortuary, Issues $50,000 Judgment

Court news on WestsideToday.com. (Thinkstock)
Court news on WestsideToday.com. (Thinkstock)

A judge today awarded $50,000 to a woman who sued an Inglewood mortuary, alleging her father was buried without the advance notification of his family.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper issued the ruling in favor of Jamilah Pitts, who alleged breach of contract and negligence by Simpson’s Family Mortuary. Testimony in the non-jury trial resumed on May 27 after a recess of about 1 1/2 months.

The case centered on whether mortuary representative Reginald Black broke promises to the Pitts family that he would coordinate the burial at Riverside National Cemetery and keep the family informed.

Pitts maintained Simpson’s Family Mortuary was paid nearly $1,700 to bury her father Edward Pitts, a Vietnam veteran, with full military honors in September 2010.

Dawn Dodson, a friend of Pitts, testified in April that the family was given a date for the service that they could not be present. The mortuary agreed to change the date, but when calls were made to the check back on a new date, they were informed Pitts had already been buried at Riverside National Cemetery, according to Dodson.

Jamilah Pitts said her father made it clear he wanted to be buried at Riverside and to be honored for his service, and she believed Black’s representations that he would see that those wishes were fulfilled.

“He assured me everything would go the way we spoke about,” Pitts testified last month. “I know Dr. Black said he was going to coordinate everything. I took his word for it.”

Pitts said Dodson told her the news that her father was buried without the family being told.

Black denied any wrongdoing. He earlier issued a statement on behalf of the mortuary.

“We here at Simpson’s Family Mortuary maintain that we are still providing quality, professional services to the entire state of California with the sole intent of offering dignity and respect to the families we serve and their loved ones,” he said previously.

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