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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | THOUSAND OAKS

Grave to Be Opened in Mortuary Lawsuit

July 15, 1999|MARGARET TALEV

A Thousand Oaks woman could learn today whether there is any validity to her $1-million lawsuit contending that it is not her mother but another woman buried next to her father at Pierce Bros. Valley Oaks Memorial Park.

On Wednesday, Ventura County Judge Glen Reiser ordered an exhumation of the remains in the grave site of Judith Lutton, who died last year at 82. The exhumation will be conducted today, and the remains will be examined at the county coroner's office.

"We're all interested in finding out the truth in this case and that's what we're going to do," said Steven H. Gurnee, whose law firm is representing Pierce Bros. "We have no information that it's not the proper body."

Forensic dental consultants for Pierce Bros. and for Lutton's daughter, Lyndy Lutton-Ward, will inspect the remains. Reiser has set the next court date for Aug. 13, in case the two sides cannot agree on the evidence.

Lutton-Ward's attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to the lawsuit, Lutton-Ward became concerned when the mortuary presented her with a contract for cremation services; she had asked that her mother be buried. She was assured that her mother would be buried, but when she viewed the body in the casket it did not appear to be her mother, the lawsuit contends.

Lutton-Ward also contends that hair samples she requested as a keepsake did not match her mother's DNA when tested.

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