A funeral home operator accused of leaving bodies unattended without refrigeration must pay $5.5 million to the daughter of a man whose body lay decomposing for up to two weeks.
The jury’s award on Friday marked the conclusion of the first of several civil trials targeting the conduct of Lewiston-based Affordable Cremation Solution.
The lawsuit contended Marielle Bischoff-Wurstle suffered emotional harm upon learning that her father’s remains had been mishandled by the Lewiston crematorium, the Sun Journal reported.
“The jury has spoken loud and clear: What Ken Kincer and Affordable Cremation Solutions did was wrong,” said Ben Gideon, one of the attorneys representing Bischoff-Wurstle.
The crematorium was shut down and its funeral licenses were suspended in June 2021 by the state, which said unrefrigerated bodies were found stacked in the basement of the building.
James Haddow, attorney for the operator, sought to explain what happened, but didn’t excuse the conduct. “What happened here is not excusable. It is not justifiable,” he told jurors.
Bischoff-Wurstle’s father died on May 30, 2021, and was delivered the same day to Affordable Cremation Solution.
She said she was unable to reach anyone at the facility until June 9, when she learned her father was not cremated. The state contacted on June 16 to tell her the body was in the chief medical examiner’s office.
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