WALKER COUNTY, GEORGIA -- March 1, 2002 -- The devastating discovery that Tri-State, a Georgia crematory, had left hundreds of bodies to decay highlights the need to scrutinize the funeral industry more carefully. Limited inspection of crematories and lack of strong state regulations can easily lead to abuse by unscrupulous operators. In Georgia, crematories that are not open to the public need not be licensed or inspected. Tri-State fell into this loophole exception (Washington Post, February 20, 2002).
Even in states such as California, in which crematories are more tightly regulated, some violations continue to occur. The owner of a Lake Elsinore funeral home was recently arrested on charges of selling body parts to research laboratories rather than cremating or embalming the deceased (New York Times, February 23, 2002). Other violations include improperly caring for the deceased and his or her cremated remains, and losing cremated remains or scattering them in inappropriate places.
Everyone deserves to have a deceased loved one disposed of in a dignified and proper manner. But for now, one must take special care in selecting a crematory or mortuary. If you need information about funeral and crematory choices, you may find these web sites helpful: the Federal Trade Commission (Funerals, a Consumer Guide), the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the California Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases).
Brayton Purcell has extensive experience in the area of mortuary and crematory malpractice. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your legal rights and the treatment of your deceased loved one.