from the DeKalb Superior Court The Honorable Kevin P.
Wallace, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 17D01-1408-PL-45
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT James O. Waanders Indianapolis,
Hal Mullett appeals the trial court's order denying his
request that Deborah K. Baker be ordered to disinter the
remains of her mother, Joyce Mullett Mink, from a family
burial plot purchased by Everett Mullett, Hal's
grandfather and Deborah's great-grandfather. Concluding
that Hal waived his argument, we affirm.
and Procedural History
In 1952, Everett purchased the family burial plot, consisting
of five burial spaces, in the Butler Cemetery, which is owned
and operated by the City of Butler ("the City").
Everett was married to Elizabeth Mullett. In 1959, Everett
died and was buried in space number 3. In 1966, Elizabeth
died and was buried in space number 2.
Everett and Elizabeth had two sons, Gaylord and Earl, who are
now both deceased but are not buried in the family burial
plot. Gaylord had three children, one of whom is
Hal. Earl had a son, Keith. Keith married Joyce, and they had
several children, including Deborah. In 1985, Keith and Joyce
divorced, and Joyce married Garner Mink,  to whom she was
married at the time of her death.
In 2005, Joyce arranged to have her mother, Eula Champion,
buried in the family burial plot in space number 5. In 2013,
Joyce died, and Deborah arranged to have Joyce buried in the
family burial plot in space number 1.
In August 2014, Hal filed a complaint against Deborah and the
City, alleging as follows: the family burial plot was titled
to Everett; neither Joyce nor Deborah owns the family burial
plot; Hal is Everett's sole surviving grandson; Hal did
not execute any written document providing a waiver or giving
permission for Joyce to be buried in the family burial plot;
Joyce was wrongfully buried in the family burial plot; and
Hal's sole remedy was disinterment of Joyce's body.
Appellant's App. at 12. Hal prayed that the "court
order disinterment of Joyce." Id. In March 2014,
the City filed a summary judgment motion. In July 2015, the
trial court issued an order granting the City's summary
judgment motion, in which the court stated, "[Hal]
concedes that [the City's] Motion for Summary Judgment
shall be granted." Id. at 89.
In March 2018, a bench trial was held. Hal and Deborah both
testified. After the evidence was heard, the trial court took
the matter under advisement and granted the parties leave to
file proposed findings of facts and conclusions thereon in
lieu of presenting final argument. Hal and Deborah each filed
proposed findings and conclusions, but neither document is
included in the record before us.
In August 2018, the trial court issued findings of fact and
conclusions thereon, in which it found that "[Hal] does
not consider [Joyce] a family member and has requested the
remains of [Joyce] be disinterred and reinterred
elsewhere." Appealed Order at 2. The trial court also
found that Deborah had not consented, nor could she obtain
her brothers' consent, to Joyce's disinterment, and
preferred that Joyce's remains stay in the family burial
plot. Id. The trial court concluded in relevant part
11. A family burial plot has been created under I.C.
23-14-41-2. [Hal] has the right to use a space in the family
burial plot under I.C. 23-14-41-4.
12. [Hal] argues that [Joyce] is improperly buried in the
family burial plot and that "the only available remedy
to [him] is the removal of [Joyce] from the family burial
plot." [Hal] offers no legal authority for this
13. I.C. 24-14-41 et seq. is silent regarding a
remedy under these circumstances. It may be that the heirs of
Everett Mullett and Elizabeth Mullett are entitled to damages
in the amount of the fair market value of a burial space in
the Butler Cemetery. But the placement of the remains of
[Joyce] does not prevent [Hal] from being buried in the
family burial plot since space number 4 remains vacant.
14. I.C. 23-14-57 et seq. speaks about the
requirements for disinterments, disentombments or
disinurnments. [Hal] has not argued that he meets these
statutory requirements. As [Deborah] points out in her
proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law,
disinterment is an extraordinary remedy, which cannot be
Id. The trial court ordered that "[Hal's]
request that [Deborah] be ordered to disinter the remains of
[Joyce] is overruled and denied." Id. at 3.
This appeal ensued.
Before turning to Hal's challenge to the appealed order,
we note that Deborah has not filed an appellee's brief,
and therefore we will not undertake the burden of developing
arguments for her. Jenkins v. Jenkins, 17 N.E.3d
350, 351 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014). Instead, we apply a less
stringent standard of review and will reverse upon a showing
of prima facie error, which is error "at first sight, on
first appearance, or on the face of it." Orlich v.
Orlich, 859 N.E.2d 671, 673 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006). However,
to determine whether reversal is required, we are still
obligated to correctly apply the law to the facts in the
record. Jenkins, 17 N.E.3d at 352.
Hal seeks to disinter Joyce's remains from the family
burial plot. Indiana Code Section 23-14-57-1 governs the
requirements for ...