By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
It’s not every day when San Benito is mentioned in the New York Times, but it happened last month when the family of the late Marcos Guerra was featured in the national edition of the Gray Lady, detailing their ordeal in bookish fashion.
In 2007, the News covered their lawsuit against the behemoth Service Corporation International (SCI), one of the largest funeral service companies in the United States and owner of the local graveyard accused of relocating Marcos’ final resting place without the knowledge of the Guerras. I know it’s cliché to say so, but it was a true David vs. Goliath battle in which the former won. The Guerras were awarded $6.3 million in damages before an appellate court later decreased the amount to $3.8 million.
But as expected, SCI appealed and the Texas Supreme Court is now hearing the case. Citing legal experts, the Texas Tribune reported that the Texas Supreme Court has a reputation as a “defense-friendly venue”, which wouldn’t bode well for the family if as much is accurate.
Still, many feel there’s not much more that can be done to the Guerras; they’ve already endured so much. Yet to truly understand their plight one would have to go back almost 10 years, when Marcos’ sudden death at the age of 74 left the Guerras in mourning. The grief continued when the local cemetery entrusted with his burial allegedly moved the body without the family’s permission. Obviously the Guerras were distraught; not just angry that their loved one’s remains were removed from the area in which other departed family members’ graves are located, but enraged that as much was done unbeknownst to them.
It’s an absolute horror when you stop to think about it.
Imagine, if you will, that for years you had been visiting what you thought was your loved one’s grave only to discover that the flowers you’d been taking every Christmas, or on every anniversary of their birth or death, adorned a headstone which below laid a body that had been disturbed – desecrated according to the family. There are no words in the English language or in any dialect that could describe the heartache such an occurrence would bring about.
This is what the Guerras feel every day … cheated of that which is held sacred. But while it’s foolish to think that any compensation, monetary or otherwise, could suffice for such emotional distress, there is a sense of achievement that lingers within their story.
Now receiving national coverage, the Guerras’ ordeal is reaching hundreds of thousands of homes and possibly millions should their story indeed be featured on 60 Minutes. Then there’s the examining of state graveyard regulations prompted by their case. It’s not much to a grieving family that’s experienced what they feel is the ultimate betrayal, but the change this national attention may bring about is a start on an otherwise long road to recovery.