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Mortuary Abuse Is Not That Uncommon

California Mortuary Shut Down After Decomposing Bodies Found in Warehouse

ROHNERT PARK, CA -- March 9, 2007 -- City attorneys won a temporary restraining order prohibiting Abby Chapel of the Redwoods Mortuary from operating and from storing bodies in a rented warehouse. Decomposing bodies had been discovered at the facility, which was refrigerated only by a swamp cooler (Press Democrat, March 6, 2007). A hearing will be held on the matter on March 12.

The warehouse is located near a carpet shop and a video repair store in a small shopping center. Some businesses there complained that they had detected foul odors. A city fire inspection found two decomposing bodies in a small room, and two more in body bags in the garage.

State inspectors visited the warehouse on March 3 and found nine bodies. Kevin Flanagan, a state Cemetery and Funeral Bureau spokesman, said that the refrigeration capacity could only handle three bodies, so six bodies were removed to another mortuary.

"What was happening at this facility was just not right," he said in a statement to the Press Democrat. "It's a terrible thing for the survivors to hear their loved ones are being treated with this kind of disrespect."

Mortuary Abuses

Unfortunately, storing bodies in improper ways is not that uncommon at certain mortuaries and funeral homes, and there have been other abusive practices. The list includes commingling bodies during cremation, losing cremated remains, and harvesting organs from the deceased before embalming to send to biologic supply houses. It is shocking and saddening in an industry that is supposed to be caring for people in a time of grief.

We believe that individuals have the right to sue for damages whenever their loved one is the victim of desecration by funeral homes or mortuaries, and our law firm has handled a number of mortuary malpractice cases. Please see our section on Mortuary Malpractice and Funeral Abuses for more details. Also, if you believe that the remains of a family member have been mistreated, please do not hesitate to contact us at Brayton Purcell for a free consultation.

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