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 services.
Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers found that E.H. Ford Mortuary Services and its director, Edmund Ford Sr., violated state law by not properly changing out the interior of the casket prior to each use.
A former employee, Jeremy Harris, filed a complaint against the funeral home on January 20, 2017.
Harris said he first went to his boss to point out that the funeral home was not following state law, but when his objections fell on deaf ears, he filed a complaint with state regulators.
Harris said the E.H. Ford Mortuary Services was violating state law that said bodies placed in rental caskets must have the insert and lining changed out every time.
However, Harris said he'd been ordered to reuse one casket for more than 20 services or visitations in less than six months, and at no point did the funeral home switch out the insert and lining in the casket.
"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 said.
He said he was ordered to place the body in a body bag and then into the casket. When the service was over, he'd remove the body and the bag and place both in a storage area.
Ford argued the process was part of the service that was being offered.
Ford said families who chose cremation services were also paying to use a rental casket for the visitation. He said that option 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.
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.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to Ford for a comment. He said he would interview with us, but when we arrived, a woman locked the door and refused to let our crew inside.