Former Louisville Funeral Home Director Stripped of License

11/17/2008

Nathanial Anderson, a former Louisville funeral home director, has been stripped of his license. Anderson was arrested yesterday after authorities discovered human remains at his home and at Anderson Funeral Home. The authorities discovered 18 sets of remains. Anderson is charged with three counts of abusing a corpse and "failure to make required disposition of property." The coroner's office is trying to locate the next of kin for several of the remains. So, the question becomes, do the families have any rights to recover against the funeral home? At first blush, one might think not. I mean, the people were already deceased, so it is not like they experienced any pain or suffering as a result of the mishandling of their bodies. But Kentucky law recognizes the families right to bring a claim for the negligenct treatment of their loved one's remains. The subject of a person's right to recover in cases of this nature was summarized by this court in Louisville Cemetery Association v. Downs, 241 Ky. 773, 45 S.W.2d 5, 6, where it was said: ‘A recovery may be had by the next of kin or the surviving spouse for an unwarranted interference with the grave of a deceased, or for the infliction of an injury to a corpse, if either be done (a) maliciously, (b) or by gross negligence, (c) or wantonly, i. e., with a reckless disregard of the rights of another (Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Hull, 113 Ky. 561, 68 S.W. 433, 24 Ky.Law Rep. 375, 57 L.R.A. 771), (d) or for an unlawful or secret disinterment or displacement thereof (Ky. St. §§ 466 and 1335), or (e) an action of trespass quare clausum fregit may be maintained by the holder of the title, or the person in possession of, the lot on which a grave is located (Cooley on Torts 239, 240; 1st Blackstone's Commentaries 429; Hook v. Joyce, 94 Ky. 450, 22 S.W. 651, 15 Ky.Law Rep. 337, 21 L.R.A. 96), or (f) for the removal of a body from one grave to another by those in authority and control of the cemetery or burial ground, without notice, or an opportunity, to him who in law is entitled to be present, if he desires, before its removal (citing cases). Hazelwood v. Stokes483 S.W.2d 576 Ky.,1972., Streipe v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 243 Ky. 15, 47 S.W.2d 1004 Meyers v. Clarke, 122 Ky. 866, 90 S.W. 1049, 28 Ky.Law Rep. 1000; Meyers v. Duddenhauser, 122 Ky. 866, 93 S.W. 43, 29 Ky.Law Rep. 393. What do you think, should the families be allowed to sue the funeral home director and recovery money? hp