Foul odors led investigators to at least 189 decaying bodies at a funeral home in rural Colorado that had promised “green” burials, officials said, describing the scene as “horrific.”
Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports that Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, is operating in extreme violation of state and federal laws relating to the proper retention and disposition practices relating to human remains. Allegations include the despolation of nearly 200 human bodies, as well as what has been described as animal taxidermy on the same property. When authorities responded to alarming reports about horrific odors from the funeral home, the execution of their court-ordered search warrant led to the discovery of nearly 200 decedents who were “improperly stored in a hazardous scene.”
The Return to Nature Funeral Home is part of a growing number that offer purportedly “green” burials as an environmentally-sensitive alternative to funerals requiring embalming fluids and elaborate coffins. In 2021, Colorado also became the second state to legalize human composting to allow bodies to be turned into soil. The practice is formally regulated by the state and there are specific prohibitions relating to the selling and use of the resultant compost.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a national law firm with offices in Tennessee, California and New York. We represent plaintiffs in a wide range of lawsuits fraud and injury 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 Tri-State Crematory Litigation, 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, and the action resulted in settlements valued at $117 million in total for the bereaved families;
- 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.
If you or a family member have lost a loved one whose remains you suspect were improperly handled by Return to Nature Funeral Home or any other funeral home, please consider speaking with an experienced injury and fraud lawyer at Lieff Cabraser about your situation. We treat all our clients with respect, compassion, sensitivity and kindness, and all information presented is held in strictest confidence.