The family members of a woman who died in March 2018 are claiming a Waco funeral director was not licensed to embalm her and was so negligent in handling her body that they were unable to give her a proper funeral.

Robert Henderson, Connie Robinson, Sherrie Henderson and Gwen Powell, family members of Lorine Henderson, are claiming negligence, breach of contract and deceptive trade practices in their lawsuit against W.H. Littles and Sons Mortuaries, 601 Ashburn St. in Waco, and Glenn Littles.

The suit, filed this week in Waco’s 414th State District Court, alleges officials at Littles and Sons allowed Henderson’s body to deteriorate so that the viewing and open casket funeral had to be canceled “due to the condition of the body and the stench coming from their mother’s body.”

A woman who answered the phone at W.H. Littles and Sons on Thursday said no one at the business would comment on the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges Glenn Littles admitted during an investigation by the Texas Funeral Service Commission that he was not licensed properly when he embalmed Henderson’s body.

“The defendants engaged in the business of embalming and offered the services of embalming when defendant Glenn H. Littles was not a licensed embalmer,” the suit claims. “This representation by the defendants was false, misleading and deceptive in that Glenn H. Littles was not a licensed embalmer.”

Henderson’s family paid $5,091 for funeral services, which included embalming, visitation or stateroom for viewing, chapel wake and other services.

The viewing was scheduled for March 16, 2018, and the family was set to arrive at 11 a.m. to prepare Henderson’s makeup and get her ready for the funeral.

“They were told by Mrs. Littles to come later on several occasions,” the suit alleges. “They were finally allowed to see their deceased mother at 4 p.m. Upon touch, decedent’s skin was found to be warm. As one of the granddaughters began to apply decedent’s customary makeup, her skin began to slough away and attach to the makeup brush and powder sponge.”

They asked Littles when he embalmed their family member, but he did not answer, according to the suit. It says he told family members Henderson was wrapped in plastic because of a “bed sore.”

“He also offered an explanation that the embalming fluid and whatever medication taken by the decedent did not react together, causing decedent to smell,” the suit alleges. “Additionally, the family observed that decedent’s ears leaked. … Additionally, decedent’s family members are left with the horrific images of their mother’s deteriorating flesh as they attempted to prepare her for burial.”

The family filed a complaint with the Texas Funeral Service Commission, which found Glenn Littles and W.H. Littles and Sons Mortuaries violated several sections of the Texas Occupation Code, the suit contends.

A recording at the Texas Funeral Service Commission on Thursday said offices were closed, and officials did not respond to phone messages or emails.

However, an order available through the state’s online licensing system states Glenn Littles was ordered to pay $375 in penalties in the case, and W.H. Littles and Sons was ordered to pay a $250 penalty.

The violations listed in the order include not properly displaying a license, leaving the amount of solution used out of Henderson’s embalming report and failing to respond to investigation inquiries in a timely manner. The order lists Littles as a licensed embalmer at that time.

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