MEMPHIS, Tenn. — E.H. Ford Mortuary Services in Memphis was penalized by the state after a former employee said the funeral home had reused the same casket more than 20 times using hospital body bags as a liner since July 2016, documents show.
The Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers handed down a $3,500 civil penalty in a consent order, according to an Aug. 7 letter.
According to a complaint by the former employee, vinyl hospital body bags were being used as casket liners so that the casket could be reused for funeral viewings.
The remains would then be placed in an unventilated storage room for more than two weeks until they were cremated, and sometimes bodies were stacked if space was limited.
If the casket's interior was soiled, according to the complaint, the employee was directed to clean it using Febreze.
The funeral director responded to investigators, saying that the body bags were complimentary from local hospitals and that the charge for cremation includes the cost of using the casket to provide "families of limited means with a dignified service."
After an investigation, the state board concluded that "it was an undisputed fact that the funeral director/embalmer and establishment used the same metal casket, without a new interior or interior insert being installed, prior to each usage of the casket shell."
Per state law, casket shells may only be reused for viewing remains if a new interior or interior insert is installed prior to usage. In this case, the licensee used hospital body bags instead of casket liners, a representative for the state board said.
E.H. Ford Mortuary is located on Elvis Presley Boulevard.