A Canberra woman who claims her mother's remains were desecrated by staff at a northside crematorium has launched legal action.
Celeste Aldridge says Norwood Park Crematorium exhumed her mother's ashes without permission, told her to identify the ashes, and a staff member stomped on the grave, according to court documents.
Ms Alridge says she can never be sure what happened to her mother's ashes.
It is understood Norwood Park has recently changed management and the allegations relate to the previous administration.
The Macgregor woman, represented by Canberra law firm Ken Cush and Associates, recently filed papers in the ACT Supreme Court, claiming damages for personal injury, shock and distress.
Court documents say Ms Alridge's mother, Debbie McLachlan, was cremated and interned at the Mitchell Crematorium in January 2003.
Ms Alridge visited the grave in May 2011 to discover the plaque had been removed.
Staff told her the plaque had probably been removed by children and they would search for it.
But she was told the next day the plaque had been taken because there had been a complaint Ms McLachlan's ashes had been interned with the remains of another person.
On the next visit, Ms Alridge discovered a hole in the ground where the grave had been, the urn gone, and a pile of dirt containing objects her family had placed with the remains to pay their respects.
Ms Aldridge's legal team said the family had no prior notice the burial place would be disturbed.
At a subsequent meeting, a staff member showed Ms Alridge an urn which he said contained her mother's ashes.
When she asked for proof, the employee allegedly opened the lid and shoved the urn up to her face and said: “See it's your mother”.
She claims she was then told she was ungrateful, the remains would be reburied, and "you got more than you deserved".
Seven months later, the remains were reburied in an internment ceremony at Norwood Park.
But a staff member refused to let Ms Alridge place dirt on the new burial site and then stomped on the grave four times while the family watched.
Ms Alridge also alleges staff removed pavers and pebbles she placed on the grave.
On Mother's Day 2012, Ms Alridge discovered the plaque had been dislodged.
When she asked why it had not been reattached was told it was because she had taken legal action against the crematorium.
Ms Alridge reattached it herself after a two month wait.
Court documents said Ms Alridge claimed damages for negligence, breach of contract, breach of duty, deceptive and misleading conduct, and unconscionable conduct.
“As a consequence of the actions or words of the defendant's servants and/or agents … the plaintiff suffered shock and distress and displayed immediate effects of that shock and distress in the presence of the defendant's servants or agents,” the claim reads.
“It was an implied term of the contract that the defendant would exercise due skill and care in connection to the services provided under the contract and that it would provide its services with sensitivity, caring and so as to provide comfort to the plaintiff and not cause foreseeable injury.”
Ken Cush and Associates claimed Ms Alridge suffered psychological injury, extreme emotional distress, depression and physical symptoms.
The plaintiff claimed past and future out of pocket medical expenses.
Ken Cush and Associates solicitor Nick Kitchin said his client was still sad and angry about the alleged treatment.
“She will never really know for sure what happened to her mother's ashes,” Mr Kitchin said.
“It is all very difficult.”
The new managers of Norwood Park declined to comment on the proceedings.
The lawsuit has been served on Norwood Park.
It will be given time to file a defence.