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Airline Lost Husband's Body, Wife Sues

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 04, 2011 6:51 AM

If you've ever been upset when an airline has lost your luggage, take heart--at least it didn't lose your husband.

Martha Elena Flores-Cura is suing Continental Airlines in response to an August 2009 incident during which the carrier allegedly lost the remains of her deceased husband, Humberto Rivera, after his body had been flown from Atlanta to Texas.

Flores-Cura made arrangements to move the body of Humberto Rivera to Texas so that his body could be driven across the border to his hometown of Monterrey, reports The Monitor. She had arranged for a man to pick up the body from the airport to complete the drive.

According to the lawsuit, when the driver met with a Continental employee the day before the body was set to arrive in Texas, he was told that someone had already picked it up.

It took eleven hours to locate the body at a funeral home an hour away, reports MSNBC.

Martha Elena Flores-Cura is likely alleging negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is what is known as a "parasite claim," meaning that the plaintiff must first prove that the defendant was somehow negligent in its actions.

If the alleged facts are true, Flores-Cura is likely to have an easy time proving that Continental was negligent.

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor permits a jury to make an inference, based on the evidence, that the defendant was negligent. All the plaintiff must show is that the alleged events don't normally occur without negligent conduct.

In other words, because it's obvious that airlines don't normally lose human remains without being negligent, Cura won't have to prove negligence.

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