Lauriaenne Lamb Sconce and her husband, Jerry, former operators of the Lamb Funeral Home in Pasadena, CA, were arrested in 1987 with their son, David, after investigators alleged that they had mishandled human remains. Sconce attorney told jurors that mass cremations, commingling of ashes, and dental gold and other body part extractions did take place at the third generation family business. But these acts were done by their son, David, without their permission or knowledge. The Deputy District Attorney alleges David did not engage in the illegal activity alone. The action performed by this funeral home has not changed my view about funeral service. The funeral industry is no different from the financial or insurance industry. There are individuals in the world that will constantly go the extra mile to maximize their profits. In the legal field we are taught to bend the rule but make sure you do not break it. In this example it is clear the defendant broke the rules and regulations. The defendant continued to break the rule until he was eventually caught. If you take a look at the article you will see that a class action suit was settled involving 5,000 deceased people. If you estimate they performed 3 cremations per day, every day of the year it would equate to 13 years of fraudulent to cremate 5,000 bodies. I do agree with the outcome of this case. Somebody had to be held accountable for these actions. In the legal field, an employer (principal) may be held liable (in addition to the employee) for actions performed by their employee (agent) if employee if performing activities within the scope of their work. In this case David, an employee, was acting on behalf of his employer. In this case David pleaded guilty to 21 counts of mishandling remains and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The plaintiff being the state represented by the District Attorney was right in their determination to hold somebody liable for these actions. Had there not been an investigation after having found human remains at a factory that was licensed as a ceramics factory, which was ran by David Sconce as a site for cremations it is unlikely there would have been any charges filed. The outcome of the article printed was the son, David, was sentenced to 5 years in prison. A class action suit was settled awarding $15.4 million to relatives of people who had been cremated. State regulators revoked the Lamb Funeral Home’s license, at the time held by Laurieanne’s father. A new license was issued to Laurieanne’s brothers, who had no involvement in the earlier business. The name of the funeral home was changed to Pasadena Funeral Home. I would have handled this situation by not performing the acts committed by David. If I was made aware that someone was doing it without my knowledge I would not have hesitated to notify the regulatory agency to report the illegal activity. Your reputation is all you have and it has to speak for itself when you are unable to.
Midway through the funeral Mass for a young wife and mother stricken down by Leukemia, the call came to the Santa Ana church. The funeral home was terribly sorry but it had sent the wrong body. As word filtered to the grieving husband, he flipped the drape and realized it was not the coffin he had ordered. In the midst of the service, staff from MacDougall Family Mortuary came to the church, wheeling the correct body down the aisle for the rest of the ceremony, wheeling out the body of the stranger. Even though the correct casket was brought in, the surviving spouse could not overcome doubts in his mind. At the grave site, he insisted that the casket be unsealed so the he could see. It was indeed his wife. This case did not change my view about the funeral service. It this incident it goes to show people can make mistakes but carelessness and laziness does exist as well in this industry as well as any other. There should have been a system in place to prevent this mix up. No I do not...
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