MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The regulatory board in charge of funeral homes fined a Memphis funeral home for not taking the necessary precautions when reusing a casket for multiple viewings.
Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers found that E.H. Ford Mortuary Services and its director, Edmund Ford, violated state law by not properly changing out the interior of the casket prior to each use.
A former employee filed a complaint against the funeral home on January 20, 2017.
The employee said he'd been ordered to reuse one casket for more than 20 viewings in less than six months.
He said he was ordered to place the body in a body bag and then into the casket. When the viewing was over, he'd remove the body and the bag and place both in a storage area.
The funeral home argued the process was part of the service that was being offered.
The funeral home said families who chose cremation services were also paying to use a rental casket for viewings. The argument was that it gave families of limited means a chance to receive a more dignified service for their loved one.
According to state laws, it is possible to reuse caskets if the interior is upholstered.
Tenn. Code Ann. 62-5-317(b)(8):
"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 a 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."
The board fined E.H. Ford Mortuary Services $2,000. It fined Edmund Ford $1,500.
The board also ordered the funeral home to stop the process immediately.
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