Tri-State Crematory Remains Desecration Cases

Result: $37 million settlement
Year: 2004

In re Tri-State Crematory Litigation

Trial commenced in March 2004 in a class action by families whose loved ones were improperly cremated and desecrated by Tri-State Crematory in Noble, Georgia. The families also asserted claims against the funeral homes that delivered the decedents to Tri-State Crematory for failing to ensure that the crematory performed cremations in the manner required under the law and by human decency.

The Tri-State Tragedy

The Tri-State Crematory of Noble, Georgia, had been in business for almost 30 years and routinely received bodies from funeral homes in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

For years, the crematory may have been foregoing cremations and passing off wood chips and other substances as ashes. In at least nine cases, it has been reported that ashes provided by the crematory to grieving relatives turned out to be powdered cement. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency has recovered 334 bodies from the property, and conclusively identified 222 of these bodies.

Tri-State Federal Class Action Lawsuit

One week into trial, settlements with the remaining funeral home defendants were reached and brought the settlement total to approximately $37 million. Since March 2004, all of the settlements with the funeral homes have been preliminarily or finally approved. The Marsh defendants, the operators of Tri-State Crematory, however, withdrew from the tentatively approved settlement. Trial on the class members’ claims against the Marsh defendants began in August 2004. Soon thereafter, the Marsh defendants entered into a $80 million settlement with plaintiffs.

Case Pleading

Read a copy of the Complaint filed April 22, 2002 in the Tri-State Crematory Lawsuits.

As part of the settlement, all buildings on the Tri-State property were razed. The property will remain in a trust so that it will be preserved in peace and dignity as a secluded memorial to those whose remains were mistreated, and to prevent crematory operations or other inappropriate activities from ever taking place there.

Earlier in the litigation, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a published order. 215 F.R.D. 660 (2003).

Additional Resources

About Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a national law firm with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, San Francisco, California and New York, New York. We represent plaintiffs in a wide range of lawsuits. In cases dating back to 1984, our attorneys have represented the bereaved families of victims of illegal and disrespectful cremations and the desecration of human remains.

These lawsuits have included:

  • In re Sconce/Lamb Cremation Cases, in which the California Supreme Court upheld the right of close family members of decedents to assert emotional distress and related tort and contract claims for decedents whose remains were allegedly subjected to illegal and/or disrespectful multiple cremations and commingling;
  • In re Neptune Society Cases, in which our lawyers served as lead counsel in a case involving claims for emotional distress, personal injury, breach of contract, and consumer fraud claims arising from concealed illegal dumping of commingled human remains by the pilot who had been hired to scatter ashes separately over the Sierra Mountains. The case resulted in a $33 million settlement for class members; and
  • Noerdinger v. City of Santa Clara, which was a wrongful cremation and emotional distress case involving multiple cremations at a city-owned crematorium over a ten-year period.

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