On February 4, 2019, the firm filed a lawsuit in Montrose, Colorado on behalf of sixty-four grieving families against Megan M. Hess, the owner of both Sunset Mesa Funeral Home and the Donor Services body-donation business, as well several other companies and individuals who benefited from an outrageous body broker scheme. The lawsuit alleges that in exchange for payment, Hess engaged in a fraudulent scheme where she promised bereaved families that Sunset Mesa would perform contracted cremations, and return sacred cremains to the families, but instead—without the Plaintiffs’ knowledge or consent—mutilated their loved one’s bodies and sold them piecemeal around the country, and even overseas, for profit.
In many cases, the families were returned what they were told were bodily “cremains”, but instead were composed in whole or in part of dry concrete and/or cat-litter. Substantially all of the named Plaintiffs are individuals contacted by the FBI during its on-going investigation of Hess and Sunset Mesa, and informed that their loved ones’ bodies or body parts, which they believed had been cremated, had instead been located around the world. Some of these Plaintiffs’ loved ones had passed years ago, and for years the families believed that the cremains they were holding were those of their loved ones. While the FBI investigation is on-going and not yet complete, deadlines under Colorado law require family members who have been contacted by the FBI to act promptly to protect their rights.
“Our grieving clients need answers,” said David K. TeSelle, Burg Simpson Shareholder and Co-Chair of the Complex Commercial Litigation Department at Burg Simpson. “It’s been a year since the FBI raid. It is time for the facts to come out and the full story to be known. It is time for those who were responsible for this scheme, and those who benefited from it, and those who allowed this scheme to continue unchecked for years, to be held to account.”
“One can only imagine the horrifying revelation in thinking that your loved one’s ashes are in an urn on your mantle, or buried in a memorial park, or around your neck in a keepsake necklace, or scattered on a loved one’s favorite Fourteener, only to find out years later that instead your loved one’s body was cut up and sold for profit without your consent. And worse, that the sacred “cremains” you were given was nothing but dry cement or kitty litter. That is unacceptable in any civilized society, and certainly in Colorado, and we will not let it stand without those responsible being held to account.”
“The lawyers at Burg Simpson will work tirelessly to get the answers, wherever the facts lead, and to hold those responsible accountable for their horrific conduct. Only then can these families have justice.”
Michael Roberts, a reporter from Westword recently covered this case.