Family sues funeral home over brain in bag

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DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of Española named in lawsuit

By The Staff

ALBUQUERQUE — A New Mexico family is suing two funeral homes over a gruesome incident in which members unwittingly accepted a bag containing a relative’s brain and only became aware of it by the odor a day later.

Funeral homes in New Mexico and Utah, where the woman died, are blaming each other for the mistake. Both have been named in the lawsuit.

“This is just a sad tragedy,” plaintiffs attorney Richard Valle said Wednesday. “This almost feels like something you’d read about in a Stephen King book.”

The suit was filed Monday in state District Court in Albuquerque. According to the complaint, the woman’s relatives “smelled a foul odor coming from the bag” they received from New Mexico’s DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Española Valley.

The woman, identified by her initials M.F.R., died in a car accident in Utah on Sept. 28.

Funeral home owner Johnny DeVargas didn’t immediately return telephone messages seeking comment but denied any fault to the Albuquerque Journal, saying a Utah funeral home was responsible.

“We inherited the problem from Utah,” DeVargas said. “We are a very reputable company and we were dealt a bad hand.”

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