Local Funeral Homes Hit With Lawsuits

One Asks $300 Million In Tri-State Crematory Case

Friday, February 22, 2002
John Taylor, owner of Taylor Funeral Home in Chattanooga, was among those at a press conference at Rock Spring on the Tri-State Crematory case. Taylor was among the local funeral homes sued on Friday. Mr. Taylor, center, is on the Chattanooga City Council. Click to enlarge all our photos.
John Taylor, owner of Taylor Funeral Home in Chattanooga, was among those at a press conference at Rock Spring on the Tri-State Crematory case. Taylor was among the local funeral homes sued on Friday. Mr. Taylor, center, is on the Chattanooga City Council. Click to enlarge all our photos.
- photo by John Wilson

Two lawsuits against Chattanooga funeral homes were filed Friday in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

A lawsuit asking $300 million in damages was lodged against Taylor Funeral Home, Franklin-Strickland Funeral Home and other unnamed funeral homes in the Tri-State Crematory case.

A second lawsuit that did not specify damages was filed by Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers and Rossville attorney Chris Townley against Turner Funeral Home and the Ray and Brent Marsh family. That suit was also filed in Walker County, Ga.

Plaintiffs in the first case are Joe C. Oden Jr. and James Greer.

Mr. Oden said his wife was sent by Taylor Funeral Home to be cremated at the facility at Noble, Ga., where scores of bodies have been found.

Mr. Greer said his son had been sent by Franklin-Strickland Funeral Home to Tri-State to be cremated.

The lawsuit asks that it may be declared a class action so others may join in the suit.

It was filed by Nashville attorneys David Randolph Smith, Edmond Schmidt and J. Allen Murphy Jr.

Libby Workman is the plaintiff in the second lawsuit, which also asks to be declared a class action. Her husband, John P. Workman, died Feb. 6.

The suit says Mike Turner of Turner Funeral home "knew or should have known" that for several years the crematory equipment was inoperable and bodies were being "discarded."

It says Turner Funeral Home had an obligation to dispose of the body entrusted to it properly.

The suit says Turner Funeral Home violated state laws dealing with burial and cremations.

The complaint says Turner Funeral Home charged Ms. Workman for transportation of the body for cremation though it knew Brent Marsh would pick up the body and return ashes.

The suit said, "Instead of being cremated, the body was stacked up in a shed on the defendant Marsh's property along with other human corpses."

It says a few days later the alleged remains of Mr. Workman were returned to Mrs. Workman "without any identifying information." It says the family had a service "in honor of the deceased in which part of the remains they had been provided were committed to the earth."

The lawsuit says the body of Mr. Workman has been identified and returned to Turner Funeral Home. Mrs. Workman said she now will have to have the body cremated "as she originally thought had been done."

The suit says Turner Funeral Home and Marsh "had a duty to respectfully, properly and legally perform the cremation of the plaintiff's loved one."



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