Newell v. SCI Alabama Funeral Services, LLC

Robert Newell’s wife Lisa passed away at their home in 2013. Newell requested that Lisa's body be transported to Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home. However, unbeknownst to Newell, Lisa's body was transported to Radney Funeral Home. The following day Newell, accompanied by his sister, two daughters, and a son-in-law, went to Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home to make the final arrangements for Lisa. Richard Johnson III, an employee of Mobile Memorial Gardens, informed Newell at that time that Lisa's body had been transported to Radney Funeral Home instead of Mobile Memorial Gardens. According to Newell, Johnson informed him that Lisa's body had been transported to Radney because Radney was now a part of the Dignity Memorial Company (both a part of SCI Alabama Funeral Services, LLC) and because Mobile Memorial Gardens did not have a crematory service. Newell informed Johnson during the meeting that he wanted Lisa's remains cremated and that he wanted to conclude the process as soon as possible. Newell executed a contract providing for the disposition of Lisa's remains by cremation. Newell contended that after Lisa's memorial service, SCI did not return any of his telephone calls or e-mails inquiring as to the status of Lisa's remains. Newell eventually went to Radney Funeral Home, learning at that time that Lisa had not yet been cremated because the funeral home had not yet received the death certificate. Newell alleged that he was emotionally distraught over the state of Lisa’s remains, and ultimately sued SCI for negligence, wantonness, the tort of outrage, and fraud. SCI moved to compel arbitration, but Newell resisted, arguing the terms of the arbitration provision at issue were grossly favorable to SCI and that SCI had overwhelming bargaining power over a grieving husband. The trial court granted the motion. Newell appealed. Finding no error in the judgment granting SCI’s motion to compel arbitration, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Newell v. SCI Alabama Funeral Services, LLC" on Justia Law