April 22, 2010; Miami Herald | Dig deep enough in the world of nonprofits, and you might be surprised at how deep some troubles can go. From Miami comes a story that a nonprofit that cares for poor and disabled adults is suing baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson over claims that his family’s funeral home breached a contract to bury several clients who had died. Among other things, the suit brought by he Guardianship Program of Dade County, charges that because Dawson’s Grace Memorial Funeral Home refused to take possession, a man’s corpse was left in limbo for weeks.
The nonprofit Guardianship Program receives public funds and acts as guardian for poor adults that the state courts say are “incapacitated.” According to the Miami Herald, services include 24-hour medical and social care for the elderly, mentally disabled or people otherwise deemed unable to care for themselves.
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Guardianship purchased seven prepaid funerals and cemetery plots for $40,000 between 2004 and 2006 from the funeral home, which then had different owners. Dawson’s brother, Vincent Brown, said the funeral home is not at fault because the home’s previous owner illegally sold the prepaid funerals and burials to the care group. “We are victims,” Brown told The Miami Herald.
In its lawsuit, Guardianship argues Brown and Dawson as part of the deal to purchase the funeral home—they took over responsibility for the contracts. Dawson, who during his career played outfield for the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins—and who was elected to the Hall of Fame in January—is not talking. Maybe he’s hoping he can just walk away from the whole thing.—Bruce Trachtenberg