SAN ANTONIO, TX — A San Antonio funeral home must pay $8 million in damages to a couple because it lost track of their daughter’s body in 2015 before it was to be cremated in a sensational case that remains under police investigation. The jury made the multi-million-dollar award to Sharlotte and Timothy Mott Tuesday at the end of a nearly three-week trial.
The Motts weren’t in the courtroom to hear the jury award against MPII Inc., which operates 14 funeral homes and cemeteries in San Antonio, including Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries, which was handling funeral arrangements for their daughter. Timothy Mott suffered a mild heart attack Friday and was recuperating at home, according to media reports.
The Motts still don’t know what happened to 25-year-old Julie Mott’s body. She died of cystic fibrosis on Aug. 8, 2015, and was to have been cremated after her Aug. 15, 2015, funeral, but employees of the funeral home found only a damaged casket.
One of the Motts’ attorneys, longtime friend Mark Greenwald, said the trial did not provide closure for the family, KENS-TV reported.
“We really thought, when we started this case, that we would know more,” he said. “Today is bittersweet … we still want to know what happened … Julie Mott is a wonderful kid, and she deserves better.”
The Motts accused Robert “Dick” Tips and his wife, Kristen, of running a sloppy company that gave a third-party contractor, which the Motts said the Tips hadn’t disclosed, unlimited access to facilities that had outdated locks and security codes.
The Tipses, who have denied wrongdoing, in turn accused Julie Mott’s ex-boyfriend of stealing Julie Mott’s body because he didn’t want her cremated and the Motts of hiding his obsession with “calling and texting” her, the San Antonio Express News reported.
In his closing arguments, plaintiff attorney Alex Katzman told the jury: “MPII lost Julie Mott’s body. The company claims someone came in and stole it. Whether they lost or mishandled it, it really doesn’t matter. They had custody and control, and they lost her body.”
The jury didn’t believe anyone stole the body, the newspaper reported. Instead, they found the funeral home had been negligent and awarded the Motts $3 million for past mental anguish and $5 million for future mental anguish.
“This isn’t about the money,” Greenwald said. “It’s not going to return their daughter.”
The Tipses and their attorney did not comment, the Express News said. It’s unclear if they will appeal.
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