A Tennessee funeral home and its director have been fined more than $3,000 for reusing caskets without reupholstering them after they were rented.
The Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers found that Edmund Hull Ford Mortuary Services violated state law by not changing the lining.
The funeral directors used hospital body bags as liners so a rental casket could then be reused over and over.
The practice was discovered by an employee at the home who challenged his bosses, but was then promptly fired.
He claimed he confronted Ford, the funeral director, and raised concerns but was subsequently dismissed.
The former worker, Jeremy Harris, then filed a complaint, which led to the investigation.
According to the state, dozens of families who paid for a rental casket had no idea that such a practice was happening.
Harris filed the complaint against the home in January, saying he’d been ordered to reuse one casket for more than 35 services or visitations in less than six months, without changing the lining at any point.
The remains would then be placed in an unventilated storage room for more than two weeks until they were cremated, with bodies stacked if space was limited.
‘The sad part about that matter is that the families have no awareness that this act took place,’ says Harris.
Harris said he’d been ordered to reuse one casket for more than 20 services in less than six months without the lining being changed.
Occasionally, if the casket and lining became soiled, it would be sprayed with Febreze in an attempt to freshen it up.
‘The people weren’t going into rental caskets. Those people were going into burial caskets–caskets that were not designed to put over 30 bodies in and take out,’ Harris said to WREG.
He said he was ordered to place the body in a body bag and then into the casket.
When the service was over, he’d remove the body and the bag and place both in a storage area.
According to the findings, state investigators said it was undisputed the funeral director used the same rental casket without a new interior or interior insert being installed and have concluded Ford engaged in unfair or deceptive funeral acts or practices.
‘If I could speak to Mr. Ford, I would just ask him why, why did you do this, why the deception?’ says Harris. ‘The $3500 is not even close to the damages that has been done with those families,’ he says.