Metro

Former funeral home to pay nearly $500k for improper care of bodies

A closed South Hadley funeral home and its former director will pay nearly $500,000 in restitution for ignoring customer requests, failing to buy state-required insurance, and allowing bodies to decompose, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said in a statement.

A consent judgment approved Thursday in Hampshire Superior Court ends a lawsuit the state brought against Ryder Funeral Home Inc. and William W. Ryder, alleging the improper handling of human remains, and misappropriation of deposits intended for funerals, the statement said.

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“We expect all funeral service providers to operate with respect for the deceased and their families. It is intolerable that any provider would take advantage of the trust placed in them by grieving families,” Healey said in the statement.

The judgment calls for $471,000 to be paid in restitution to about 110 former customers, and to pay $345,000 in civil penalties and lawyers fees. Ryder is permanently barred from working in the funeral industry, according to prosecutors.

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The state’s inquiry into the business began in May 2014 when an investigator from the Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure discovered bodies “in various states of decomposition” on the premises, the statement said.

The funeral home’s license was suspended and, in July 2014, the business closed without notifying customers.

In September 2014, the state filed its lawsuit alleging the funeral home did not properly care for bodies entrusted to them, and accepted pre-payments from customers, but did not purchase insurance required for those plans, the statement said.

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Anyone who believes they were affected should contact the attorney general’s office at 617-727-8400.

Andrew Grant can be reached at andrew.grant@globe.com.
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