A mother from Texas will sue a Houston funeral home after, she says, it let her son’s body ‘literally rot’.
Funeral guests were left retching and vomiting from the smell of decomposing flesh after the funeral home neglected to embalm the body of Edward Silva, 43, the $1,000,000 lawsuit claims.
The Integrity Funeral Home was reportedly due to embalm Silva on 12 February 2021, ahead of his funeral on 17 February, but the service was pushed back by nearly a week due to adverse weather conditions.
His mother, Julieta Guerra, said she was only invited to see the body in a ‘severely decomposed state’ hours before the funeral on 23 February.
Her lawsuit, which alleges negligence and deceptive trade, reads: ‘Edward had remained cut open and had not been sewn back up. His chest had a gaping hole, an empty cavity that was not stuffed.’
It continued: ‘The funeral suit that Julieta has brought for Edward would not fit, because of the extreme post-mortem swelling of the body.’
Edward Silva, 43, died unexpectedly on 9 February and was not embalmed before his delayed funeral on 23 February, his mother claims
Julieta Guerra (L) and her son, Edward Silva (R), pictured. Ms Guerra is suing a Houston funeral home after, she says, it failed to take care of her son’s body
It is not clear from the lawsuit why Silva died unexpectedly on 9 February 2021, nor why he was not immediately embalmed.
Guerra alleges that when she drove to the funeral home to see her son during Storm Uri, the home was closed and did not have generators.
The storm, which impacted the United States, Mexico and parts of Canada between 13 and 17 February 2021, resulted in nearly 10 million power outages.
Texas hospitals were reportedly forced to evacuate patients who were left without water or heat due to outages.
The Lone Star State, usually self-reliant for energy, lacked the interconnectivity to pool resources from neighbors when grid operators failed to build reserves, leading to widespread outages.
When the storm subsided and Guerra was finally able to see her son, she had to put white gloves on his hands to stop fluids oozing out, according to the lawsuit.
Silva’s mother arrived with a beautician on 22 February, ahead of the funeral the next day.
The lawsuit says her son’s ‘skin was so delicate that when [the beautician] put on the makeup, the skin was slipping and falling off, and … his hair was falling Dogg when she was trying to cut and style it.’
Funeral home director Hilda Rojas suggested spraying the coffin with cologne and using coffee to mask the smell.
Rojas reportedly used Q-tips to stop a liquid oozing out of Silva’s ears.
She is alleged to have said: ‘I don’t know what this is.’
The smell was so bad the family elected for a closed coffin funeral.
More than 100 friends and family arrived, with people ‘covering their noses to help them tolerate the smell’ and some guests retching throughout the service.
‘The smell of decomposition was just so distracting.’
Eddie Silva, pictured, died aged 43. His funeral was delayed by poor weather conditions
The Integrity Funeral Home at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Texas, where Mr Silva was supposed to be embalmed in February 2021
Guerra is asking for $1mn in damages after claiming she has suffered panic attacks since the funeral.
She says the funeral home did not offer an apology, but instead months later called to ask Guerra not to sue the funeral home or ‘they will let people go’.
Nearly two years later, an in-person hearing is scheduled in Harris County, Texas, on 24 February.