Mother Claims Funeral Home Left Son to Rot

By: Steve Doyle, The Huntsville Times
By: Steve Doyle, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A Huntsville mother claims some mourners were forced to leave her son's open-casket funeral visitation last month because Nelms Funeral Home failed to embalm the body.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Madison County Circuit Court, Jo Timmie Holman alleges the body of her son, Norman Holman Jr., had begun to decompose by the time of his June 9 funeral -- 12 days after his death.

According to the suit, the body "had obviously not been embalmed as agreed, and it smelled bad."

"The family, the friends, and other mourners were horrified by the smell, the stench that penetrated the room," the lawsuit reads. "Some mourners actually left the room because of the smell. His fingernails and other parts of his body were discolored. The family was humiliated."

Holman is suing the funeral home and its chief executive officer, Charles L. Ray Jr., for breach of contract, negligence, intentional inflection of emotional distress and misrepresentation.

Terri Ray, Nelms Funeral Home's funeral director, said this morning that she was not aware of the lawsuit.

"I have no comment on that at this time," said Ray.

The lawsuit also claims that the Carmichael Avenue funeral home bungled the transportation arrangements for the family on the day of the funeral.

Holman contends the funeral home driver picked up the family just 40 minutes before the scheduled start of the visitation, then drove to the wrong church.

Norman Holman died May 28 at Huntsville Hospital. The lawsuit does not say how he died, and the family's attorney, John Brinkley Jr., was not immediately available for comment.

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