A Tennessee funeral home is facing fines after the director was reportedly caught reusing caskets without first reupholstering them.
FOX reports that the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers caught E.H. Ford Mortuary Services reusing caskets that had the same lining inside during previous uses, a violation of state law. Officials were tipped off after former employee Jeremy Harris reported that he was ordered to use the same casket over 20 different times in the course of less than six months. Harris filed the complaint in January 2017.
“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 told NBC5.
Harris explained that he would put a body into a body bag, then when funeral services ended, he would remove the body bag and the body and place them in storage.
Edmund Ford, the director of the funeral home, defended his actions and said reusing rented caskets was a part of the service people paid for when they wanted their loved ones cremated. The funeral company said it was a chance for people to give their loved ones one last goodbye before cremation.
Regardless, Tenn. Code Ann. 62-5-317(b)(8) states that it’s illegal to reuse any casket unless it’s lining has been removed and replaced with a new one.
“Using any casket or part of a casket that has previously been used as a receptacle for, or in connection with, the burial or other disposition of a dead human body, except the shipping of another dead human body; or where disposition of the dead human body is to be by cremation, it shall be permissible to utilize a previously used casket shell for viewing the remains if, and only if, a new interior or interior insert is installed prior to each usage of the casket shell.”
Officials fined Ford $1,500 and fined the funeral home itself $2,000.