Suit Says Funeral Home Had Body for 45 Days

The two-count suit, which claims intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, seeks more than $100,000 in damages

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Constance Smith

    A Chicago woman filed what appears to be the first lawsuit against a funeral home that last week was found to be operating without heat or electricity.

    Tamika Richardson’s suit, filed Monday, alleges her mother's body was stored for more than 45 days at Carter Funeral Chapel, at 2100 E. 75th Street, on the city's southeast side.

    Funeral Home Has History of Violations

    [CHI] Funeral Home Has History of Violations
    State records show mortician Harry Joseph Carter, the owner of Carter Funeral Chapel, has faced numerous citations. He was suspended and fined in April of 1999 for practicing on a non-renewed license. Carter got his license back in October 2001, but the state records indicate he lost it again in August of 2006 for failure to pay state income taxes. In October of 2008 his license was indefinitely suspended again, and he was fined $6,000, due to "violations of regulations, untrustworthiness, embalming without consent, and unprofessional conduct." (Published Monday, Feb 20, 2012)

    "You are running a business and treating the remains of peoples' loved ones wrong," Richardson said through tears. "That's not right."

    The suit claims the remains of Constance Denise Smith were received by the funeral home on Jan. 7, but she did not learn until Feb. 20 that the facility was operating without electricity, and bodies remained in the facility for an "unreasonable" amount of time without proper storage available.

    Funeral Home Owner Defends Practices

    [CHI] Funeral Home Owner Defends Practices
    "It's a serious issue," said Harry Carter, owner of Carter Funeral Chapel. "There was numerous city, state and county personnel going over every square inch of the funeral home, the roof, the basement. ... They inspected all the remains here with a microscope basically and didn't find one human remain to be out of compliance." (Published Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012)

    Richardson called Carter on Feb. 21 and found that her mother’s corpse was still being held at the funeral home and hadn’t yet been cremated, the suit said.

    It claims the funeral home should have properly honored and respected family members by storing, preserving, cremating and memorializing the bodies stories there.

    The funeral home failed to cremate Smith within a reasonable time; failed to maintain the funeral home with heat and electricity; failed to notify family members of the condition of the funeral home; and failed to tell Richardson that her mother’s body had remained there for more than 45 days, the suit alleges.

    "If he couldn't perform the duties of the cremation, if his facility was not up to par, he could have just let us know so we could take my mother somewhere else," said Richardson. "We really don't want to see this happen to any other family ... any people in the world."

    The two-count suit, which claims intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

    The chapel's owner, Harry Carter, did not respond to a request for comment Monday but last week conceded that some problems had plagued his business. Despite those issues, however, he said all bodies were properly cared for.