12/27/07 — Funeral home sued for failure to pay lawyer

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Funeral home sued for failure to pay lawyer

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on December 27, 2007 2:02 PM

Rhodes Funeral Home won a lawsuit filed in 2004 for improper embalming, but now the Goldsboro-area business is being sued to collect legal bills from that case, court records show.

A lawsuit filed this month by Tommy W. Jarrett of Dees, Smith, Powell, Jarrett Dees and Jones alleges the funeral home owes him $9,211 in attorney fees and other bills.

Jarrett represented Rhodes Funeral Home's managers and directors in a suit filed in 2004 by Victor and Linda Collins of San Diego County, Calif.

Rhodes Funeral Home won the suit after a jury's decision.

The siblings, the children of Hattie Lee Collins of Dudley, alleged that when their mother died in November of 2002, the funeral home embalmed the body instead of taking the deceased to the morgue at Wayne Memorial Hospital, the new suit states.

A jury decided that Rhodes Funeral Home was not liable, "principally because of the testimony of the medical examiner and a Wayne County deputy sheriff," the lawsuit states.

The new suit alleges that two things made representing Rhodes difficult.

The first complicating factor was that representatives of Rhodes appeared before the N.C. Board of Mortuary Science before the Collins' lawsuit was filed, the suit states.

In entering into a consent order before the board, representatives "essentially, but unintentionally, acknowledged wrongdoing in the matter," the lawsuit states.

The second issue complicating the case for Jarrett -- who then billed at a rate of $175 per hour -- was the health of J.B. Rhodes Sr.

Rhodes Sr. became "increasingly more ill and required long-term hospitalization," which prevented him from testifying and otherwise participating in the lawsuit, the new suit alleges.

A decision in the Collins' case was reached in October 2006, in favor of Rhodes Funeral Home.

The current manager of Rhodes funeral home, Derrick Platt, said through an associate that he did not wish to comment on the new lawsuit.