LOGAN – The children of a Logan County woman are suing over claims her body was embalmed after her death without the family's permission.

The estate of Wilma Gibson, through Melba Porter, as administratrix and individually, Keith Gibson, Donald Gibson, Sherry Gibson and Brenda Harper filed a lawsuit Oct. 20 in Logan Circuit Court against S.E. Funeral Homes of West Virginia Inc. and Gevans Inc., both doing business as Evans Funeral Home, citing negligence.

According to the complaint, Wilma Gibson passed away at Logan Regional Medical Center on Oct. 2, 2013, and her remains were transferred to Evans Chapmanville. The plaintiffs say when they contacted the defendants to make arrangements and arrived at Evans Oceana, they were distraught to learn the defendants had no knowledge of and were not in possession of their mother's remains.

The lawsuit states the defendants were eventually able to ascertain the remains were 45 minutes away in Chapmanville, where the body was being embalmed without the family's consent. According to the lawsuit, the funeral service was conducted at Evans Oceana on Oct. 5, 2013, when Melba Gibson was met in the parking lot of the funeral home by an employee and forced to sign a contract there.

Melba Gibson says she retained counsel who wrote to ask Evans not to contact Melba Gibson but, instead, to communicate through counsel, which Evans confirmed receiving, but declined to follow, contacting her on at least one occasion to collect consumer debt.

The defendants are accused of violating West Virginia code, negligence, outrage, breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, constructive fraud, and fraud in inducement, intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, common law negligence, common law invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The plaintiffs seek actual, statutory, general and punitive damages plus costs of litigation.

They are represented by attorney Steven S. Wolfe in Logan. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Eric H. O'Briant.

Logan Circuit Court case number: 14-C-292




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