Cemetery operator ordered to pay $14,000 to state after rats ate dead bodies

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Forest Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park’s ownership company StoneMor signed a consent order last Friday, meaning the cemetery operator admitted rats did eat away at two bodies waiting for preparation at their Whitten Road facility.

WREG first reported the allegations earlier this month, when we obtained a complaint from a former employee saying the prep room had a rat infestation from June 2020 until March 2021 and management ignored the problem.

The Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers addressed the issue at a May meeting.

“Despite the warning from the ex-employee who was employed at the time, the respondent continued to use the preparation room,” said a presenter to the board.

According to the consent order, Forest Hill must pay $14,000 in fines, or $1,000 for each day they waited to change facilities after acknowledging the problem.

According to the order, they also have to follow other guidelines: Forest Hill must inform both families about what happened and provide a full refund, provide professional extermination reports every month to the board, show proof of repairs and wait for state approval until they can use the building again.

During our last visit, the WREG Problem Solvers asked a manager if the building was shut down.

“I can’t answer that,” he said, instead referring us to a corporate spokesperson.

In an email, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Lindsay Granson, who is based at StoneMor’s Bensalem, Pennsylvania office, called the rodent infestation an “isolated situation” that was “handled immediately and there has been no other issue.”

Now that StoneMor has admitted in the consent order there were two families involved, the Problem Solvers followed up to ask why they called it an isolated incident and why they continued to use the room after the rat discovery. We also asked if there were any more bodies affected and if they have any message to the community.

Granson responded by saying the order “contains the only details” they’re willing to disclose.

Alex Martin, Assistant Commissioner of Regulatory Boards for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance released the following statement to WREG expressing their condolences to the affected families. “We are grateful that this matter has been resolved. We urge all consumers who may feel that they have been treated unfairly by a licensee or if they know of unlicensed or illegal activity to immediately file a complaint with our team,” he said.

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