The family of a Texas man is seeking more than $1,000,000 in damages after workers at a mortuary service allegedly abused his remains, dropping his body and leaving bruises and a dent on his head.
According to a petition filed June 19, Twinwood Mortuary Service committed professional negligence and breached their duty to the family by mishandling the body of Juan “Chuco” Mejia. The lawsuit was filed by his widow, Margaret, and his children, William, Michelle and Melody.
On June 14, 2021, Mejia died in daughter Melody’s apartment in Houston.
She confirmed on social media that the family ‘I have made the difficult decision to end my father’s treatment and bring him home for hospice care – to be surrounded by our warmth and love.”
She added, “We hope you can continue to remember and honor my father by living life to the fullest – as he always did (especially when he cheered on the Dallas Cowboys).”
Juan ‘Chuco’ Mejia died at his daughter’s apartment in Houston on June 14, 2021
The avid Dallas Cowboys fan is survived by his wife Margaret and three children
After Mejia died, funeral services were arranged and Twinwood Mortuary employees were sent to retrieve his body
The family contracted Yeager Barrera Mortuary of Eagle Pass, Texas, to handle funeral services and was told Twinwood Mortuary would dispose of Mejia’s body.
However, the lawsuit claims that the two employees who arrived that evening were not licensed funeral directors, which is required by the state of Texas.
Mejia’s body was covered with a blanket and placed on a metal stretcher, with an employee holding both ends. William noted that they “looked young and were visibly hesitant in their decision-making.”
He offered to help carry his father’s body down the stairs, but the employees refused. William then “instructed the employees to ask for more help from coworkers; However, the two employees indicated that this was not necessary and did not seek help.’
As the employees began carrying Mejia’s body down the stairs, William closed the door and heard a thump, followed by several thumps in succession.
He discovered that the stretcher had fallen off the rolling frame and his father’s body had fallen onto the sidewalk. One employee was on his knees next to the stairs, while the other was on the floor.
William saw his father’s head, shoulder and the upper half of his body lying on the cement. He rushed down the stairs and “frantically covered his father’s body by hugging it in an attempt to shield him from the neighbors’ gaze.”
William tried to level the stretcher and lift it, along with his father’s body, off the ground, but was unable to do so. He shouted at the employees to help him.
The workers sent to retrieve the body “were visibly hesitant in their decision-making,” according to the lawsuit filed by Mejia’s widow and children.
Mejia’s son, William, heard a banging noise from outside the apartment. When he opened the door, he saw his father’s body lying on the concrete
Twinwood employees are accused of tipping the stretcher, causing Mejia’s body to fall to the ground, leaving his head, shoulder and torso exposed.
William ran outside and frantically tried to cover his father’s corpse, shielding it with his own body to prevent the neighbors from seeing it.
According to the lawsuit, William suffered pain in his arm and back.
One employee “apologized for the situation and agreed that the situation should not have happened the way it did,” admitting that “no one should have seen what William Mejia saw.”
After employees straightened the stretcher and carried his father’s body away, William contacted Yeager Barrera Funeral Home to inform them of the incident.
When the funeral home responded, William was told that “staff reported that they safely placed Juan Mejia’s body down slowly to better adjust their grip, and nothing further happened.”
On June 18, 2023, the family arrived at Yeager Barrera Mortuary in Eagle Pass for Mejia’s wake.
William and his mother, Margaret, were the first to see the open casket. The family noticed dents and bruises on Mejia’s head “from being dropped to the ground by the employees” who had transported his body two years earlier.
“This caused immense mental anguish to the plaintiff and even disrupted the grieving process of himself and his family,” the petition reads.
The employees denied dropping the body, saying “they safely placed Juan Mejia’s body down slowly to better adjust their grip.”
At the wake, Mejia showed a noticeable dent on his head and bruises, much to the bewilderment of his family.
His widow and three children are suing the mortuary for negligence, seeking more than $1 million in damages
Twinwood Mortuary Services was founded by Todd and Julie Liem and advertises itself as “providing a level of service never before seen in Houston”
Twinwood Mortuary Services was founded in 2012 by husband and wife team Todd and Julie Liem, according to their website.
Julie has over ten years of experience as a licensed funeral director and embalmer, while Todd has a background in construction.
“Since April 2012, Twinwood Mortuary Service has provided a level of service never before seen in Houston,” the website says.
“No other independent mortuary service comes close to Twinwood’s level of service. We are proud of the facility we have built and the service we provide.”
The Mejia family continues to mourn and remember the loss of their father and husband every year.
On January 23, Melody posted a message on Facebook, thanking those who honored her father’s life through random acts of kindness.
She announced that family and friends had collectively raised $1,000 for chemotherapy care packages and gift cards for patients from the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, a Texas charity.
“Thank you again for helping us celebrate Chuck,” she wrote, referring to her father by his nickname.
“We hope you continue to live your life as my father did… spreading kindness and laughter to everyone you meet.”