Victims' Families Sue Crime-Scene Cleanup Company and Crew
Aftermath Inc. refers to itself as a "biohazard restoration company", more commonly known as crime-scene cleanup: The company's employees go in after murders, suicides, injuries, hoarding cases and other seriously unpleasant situations. But now three of their Texas employees are being sued in Dallas County district court, where five families claim that after their loved ones died, the Aftermath cleaning crews seriously deceived them about the cost of their services, charged for hours in which they'd worked for 15 minutes and sat around for 45, and billed their parent company for cleaning supplies they'd never actually touched.
Jeffrey Mayes, Cynthia Karle and Ricardo Donato all had family members who died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Justine Ingels and Crystal Dopkins had loved ones who were found dead several days after decomposition began. All of them hired Aftermath, an Illinois-based company with offices all over the United States.
The suit claims that Dawn Wilcox, Brian Cox and Justin Foster were hired to do cleanup for all the plaintiffs in 2011 or 2012. In each case, the family members ended up receiving staggering bills from Aftermath, which they claim was the result of fraudulent billing from the trio.
The families claim that the amounts they were charged ended up being "300 percent to 1,000 percent" greater than what they'd been quoted. They also say that the trio "had a pattern of working for 15 minutes and taking breaks for 45 minutes," then reporting full hours of work back to the mothership.
And Aftermath, the families say, has heard from them and done nothing. "In response to each victim, Aftermath Inc. has denied allegations of misrepresentation and ignored their pleas," the plaintiffs write. "This has been Aftermath Inc.'s unwavering response in spite of repetitive and identifiable markings of the Conspirators' scheme." One of the workers, Brian Cox, was recently promoted to regional supervisor, the suit says.
Aftermath says on itswebsite that insurance typically pays for "some, or all" of a bill for cleaning services rendered, and that Aftermath submits a bill on behalf of the clients. The plaintiffs claim that they've been told to bill their insurance companies themselves for the charges, and that when insurance has refused to pay -- "often stating the charges were unreasonable and excessive" -- they're told to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance. Fox 4 previously reported that the Donato family was given a bill for $22,000, of which their insurance company said they would only pay 10 percent.
The plaintiffs also claim that liens have been executed on some of their homes in an attempt to collect on the money owed, and that all of them have been threatened with other legal action.
Aftermath made news in Massachusetts last year, when a woman named Regina Revelus, whose 23-year-old son murdered his two sisters before being killed by police, sued the company. She said Aftermath billed her more than $32,000 and took a lien out on her home when she didn't pay. A report there found five other lawsuits against the company with similar claims. They have also been sued unsuccessfully in Ohio over similar issues. Another disgruntled customer also appears to have started a Wordpress site that accuses Aftermath of taking financial advantage of its customers.
Aftermath didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, and we're still trying to find the defendants to hear their side. We'll update if and when we hear back. The full complaint is below.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- Talking Trump, Cruz and the Clintons With Former GOP Hit Man Roger Stone
Fri., Dec. 4, 7:30pm
Fri., Dec. 4, 8:00pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 12:00am
Sat., Dec. 5, 12:30pm
- Dallas Isn't Very Good at Fighting Blight
- Texas' Embarrassing House Science Chairman Is Investigating Climate Scientists