Testimony wraps in trial over mishandled burials

Testimony wraps in trial over mishandled burials

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Testimony has concluded in a class action suit against nearly two dozen Memphis funeral homes.

The massive trial has been in court since the day after Labor Day.

At issue is whether those funeral homes are to blame for botched burials at Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett.

“I apologize but sometimes we’ve got to do things the right way and the most expedient way and that's what we're trying to get done,” said Chancellor Jim Kyle.

Wednesday afternoon, closing arguments were set to take place in the weeks-long trial.

But in a case this big and with so many attorneys, it hit a snag with both sides arguing over what will appear on the jury form.

Once both sides rested, Kyle moved to administrative matters, whittling down the jury from 15 to 12 by dismissing three jurors through random draw.

“I would suggest to you that if you could reduce your closing arguments to 35 minutes each we can get the jury working by 10 in the morning and you never know what will happen,” Kyle said.

The case involves 1,200 plaintiffs and 22 Memphis-area funeral homes who gave remains to Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett for burials.

The families and their attorneys say the funeral homes and funeral directors are to blame for mishandled burials at Galilee, where caskets were crushed and bodies buried on top of each other.

Attorneys for the funeral homes say the state allowed the cemetery to remain open and unlicensed even amid complaints.

They also say it was the cemetery's job to ensure burials were properly completed.

Closing arguments start Thursday at 8 a.m., and it's possible the jury could get the case by mid-day.

However, if they don’t reach a verdict Thursday, deliberations may stretch into next week. They will not deliberate on Friday.

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