When Warren Griffith died in March 2001, there was one thing his wife, Janet Griffith, and his daughter, Cynthia Quintana, could be sure of. His body, which had been laid to rest at the Palms Woodlawn Funeral Home and Cemetery, would be buried in a plot that Janet had purchased, one that had her grave next to his so the two could be close to each other in death.
For the next seven years, Janet and Cynthia visited Warren's grave in the cemetery on Old South Dixie Highway in Naranja to pay their respects. But when Janet died in November 2008 and her body was taken to Palms Woodlawn, Cynthia says she learned something horrifying: The body in her father's grave belonged to a total stranger.
In a recently filed lawsuit, Quintana alleges that Palms Woodlawn employees "intentionally mis-buried" Warren Griffith in March 2001, then buried a non-related woman in Warren's grave. To make matters worse, they hid that secret from Quintana and her mother, then buried Janet Griffith on top of another unrelated person after her death.
"The defendant's conduct was malicious and intentional [and] is outrageous and goes beyond all bounds of decency in a civilized society," the lawsuit states.
Quintana declined to comment through her lawyer, Bill Williams. When asked for comment, an employee at Palms Woodlawn directed Riptide to Mariana Caballero, an executive at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Funeral Homes. A message left for her seeking comment was not returned.
According to the lawsuit, after Warren Griffith's death, his body was placed in a different grave than had been planned, while a stranger's body was placed in Warren's grave. Palms Woodlawn didn't tell either the Griffiths or the unrelated family about the mis-burial, and no reason was given in the lawsuit for the error. To confuse matters further, in July 2004, the grave markers for Warren Griffith and the non-related deceased were moved.
In November 2008, when Janet died and was buried at Palms Woodlawn, the lawsuit states that "Palms Woodlawn, for the first time, explained to the members of the Griffith family ... about the mis-burials, despite the fact that Palms Woodlawn had knowledge of the mis-burials of their deceased relatives for at least seven years before this date."
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Then, the lawsuit claims, Palms Woodlawn employees "intentionally mis-buried [Janet Griffith] on top of a non-related deceased male or female, and then [she] subsequently had to be disinterred on February 28, 2009, because of the intentional acts and malfeasance of Palms Woodlawn's agents and employees."
Even after the mistake was exposed, the Griffiths still aren't lying together. The lawsuit states that Warren Griffith "is buried in a double depth burial with a non-related male or female and ... Janet Griffith is buried in a remote location, not next to her husband."
Quintana is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, as well as a trial by jury.