Another family files lawsuit in funeral home case, alleges they still don't have remains

  • In US
  • 2022-10-07 02:23:00Z
  • By The Evening News and The Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.

Oct. 6-JEFFERSONVILLE - Another lawsuit has been filed against former Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center owner Randy Lankford, with plaintiffs alleging they still haven't received a loved one's remains following the July raid of the Jeffersonville facility.

Plaintiffs Michael and Jason Rasmovich allege in a complaint filed on Sept. 30 that Lankford told them he'd "performed customary and appropriate funerary services for the remains of their loved one, the deceased."

The complaint states that didn't happen.

Instead the deceased, "was left to rot at the funeral home, along with at least 30 other human bodies. To date, these funerary services have not been provided, including, but not limited to, the cremation of the remains of (the deceased) and the provision of a funerary urn," plaintiffs state in the complaint.

The plaintiffs also allege the criminal investigation into Lankford is delaying the burial of their loved one.

"Because of the ongoing law enforcement investigations and criminal prosecutions, the decomposing body of (the deceased) can still not be returned to the Plaintiffs for a proper burial," plaintiffs said in the complaint.

Last month the News and Tribune spoke to Derrick Kessinger, who'd also been waiting for the ashes of his loved ones for months after turning to Lankford's funeral home last spring.

Earlier this week, Kessinger said he received the remains of his fiancé Aeriell Barton and father, Mickey Kessinger.

Lankford is facing multiple civil lawsuits and recent court filings show he doesn't think he can get a fair trial in Clark County, so he wants it moved somewhere else.

Lankford's civil attorneys filed motions for a change in venue in nearly all of the civil lawsuits last month, asking the court to try him in Scott County instead.

"There are few if any potential jurors in Jeffersonville who are not aware of the circumstances involving the funeral home, and what information they possess is likely drawn from television, media accounts, and gossip," attorney James S. Stephenson wrote in the court filing.

The filing lists several media reports about the situation at Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center, including reporting from the News and Tribune.

"A general atmosphere of prejudice against the defendants, Lankford in particular, exists within Jeffersonville and Clark County," Stephenson wrote.

He argues Scott County is the only county in the judicial district consisting of Clark, Floyd and Scott counties with an unbiased jury pool. It is " the county least likely to be subjected to inflammatory pretrial publicity generated since July 2 and likely to persist through trial."

"The discovery of the bodies in the funeral home created a media furor nationwide, but in Clark County and Jeffersonville in particular," Stephenson wrote.

Karl Truman, representing plaintiff Angela Newcomb in her case against Lankford, objected to the change of venue, arguing there's no evidence to support media coverage has tainted the jury pool in Clark County.

"In this case, the Defendant (Lankford) has not provided the court with any evidence that the publicity of Randy Lankford's criminal charges have tainted any prospective jurors in Clark County," Truman wrote. "The motion does nothing more than make a vague, unsubstantiated allegation that simply because Randy Lankford's criminal charges have been reported in the media, the jury pool must be tainted."

Some of the families involved in the case are traveling from places like Mount Washington, Kentucky and Elizabethtown, Kentucky to attend court dates in Jeffersonville. If the venue moves to Scott County some families would have to travel over an hour each way to attend proceedings.

A hearing on the motion for a change of venue has been set for 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 in Clark Superior Court No. 6.

Lankford is currently in the Clark County jail facing felony and criminal theft charges connected to the remains of loved ones belonging to three separate families.

This comes after police in July found 31 bodies in various states of decomposition, and the cremated remains of 17 people at the funeral home at 3106 Middle Road.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said more criminal charges are on the way.

Court records on Thursday show public defender Tyler Miller will represent Lankford in these criminal cases.


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