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March 8, 2013

Jury rules in former funeral home director’s favor

Civil suit completion means Rick Pyke won’t have to pay mother money



Mullineaux said that evidence revealed that the urn was not leaking, and it is his position that the urn was in fact sealed, and perhaps spilled, after Layton forcefully broke the urn’s seal.

The complaint also includes that the child’s ashes were not contained inside a sealed plastic container within the urn.

Mullineaux said a funeral home is not required to put to ashes into a plastic bag before placing the ashes into an urn. He added that the urn was crafted for a child, and smaller than an urn fashioned for adult remains, which makes it more difficult to fit a plastic bag into its opening.

Mosley said it is industry standard in the funeral services business to provide proper documentation to confirm the identity of the ashes.

“We put the focus on [Layton] being given a leaking urn that contained ashes that she was not sure were her daughter’s or not,” Mosley said, adding that an identification tag was not provided with the ashes.

Mullineaux said state statute provides that a funeral home has 30 days to return a person’s ashes to loved ones, and that Pyke fell within that time period.

Mosley said Layton has never received confirmation that the ashes she was given actually are her daughter’s remains.

“It has never been determined, and we have to take the word of Mr. Pyke — a criminal, a fraud and a thief,” he said.

Mosley explained that is was solely up to the jurors to determine what amount should be awarded to Layton if they found Pyke had acted negligently and caused her emotional distress. 

“In this type of case, who knows what it is worth,” Mosley said, adding that it is virtually impossible to put a monetary figure on Layton’s suffering. “We asked for what you think it is worth, but I suggested we ask for $2 million for someone mistreated that way.

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