Flores v. Baca

871 P.2d 962 (1994)

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Flores v. Baca

New Mexico Supreme Court
871 P.2d 962 (1994)

RW

Facts

Maria Flores (plaintiff) and her husband, Hipolito, made prospective funeral arrangements that expressly called for their bodies to be embalmed before burial. When Hipolito died, Maria’s daughter, Rachel Ramirez (Rachel) (plaintiff), contracted with Sam Baca (defendant), a funeral director, to conduct Hipolito’s funeral, embalming, and burial. Two weeks later, medical authorities ordered Hipolito’s body to be exhumed and autopsied. Maria and her children attended the exhumation and were shocked by the badly decomposed lower half of Hipolito’s corpse, which clearly had not been embalmed. The family sued and filed both tort-based and contract-based claims against Baca. After two trials, the trial court awarded Rachel and Maria compensatory damages for Baca’s breach of contract. Rachel’s award compensated Rachel for the improper embalming, and Maria’s award compensated Maria for emotional distress. The trial court dismissed all other claims, including claims for punitive damages. The family and Baca filed cross-appeals to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ransom, J.)

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