Tag Archives: Service Corporation International

Service Corporation International Funeral Home Worker Lawrence J. Clement Accused of Sexually Molesting a Corpse

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Toledo, Ohio

Cindy Putman protests outside the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home on Tremainsville Road and with good reason.

A deeply disturbing story has unfolded in this Toledo funeral home, one owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International. In yet another scandal for the largest funeral corporation, an employee with H.H. Birkenkamp funeral home has been arrested after police say he sexually molested a corpse. Lawrence J. Clement, 57, was taken into custody after the victim’s family notified police.

Lawrence J. Clement Sexually Molested Corpse

According to the Toledo Police Department, employees with the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home called the 51-year-old victim’s family members to report that one of their staff members had sexually abused her corpse. Another employee allegedly witnessed the sexual assault and threatened to go to police unless the family was contacted. The funeral home offered to waive the $11,000 funeral bill if they agreed not to call police. The family rejected the offer, contacted police and transferred the victim’s body to another funeral home.

Specific details about the abuse were not released, other than “sexual molestation.” Lisa Marshall, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI), says the employee has been fired.

Clement was booked into the Lucas County Jail and charged with sexual abuse of a corpse.

Service Corporation International funeral homes can be identified by the Dignity Memorial Brand.

Many Are Calling Newspaper Ad From Funeral Corporation SCI Misleading

A former well-known name in Austin funeral service has stirred up more than just a few Texans with an open-letter many are saying is misleading. Charles Walden, a former funeral home owner, allowed his name to appear in an advertisement (disguised to look like an open-letter) placed by Houston-based funeral corporation, Service Corporation International.

The advertisement appeared in the May 26th edition of the Austin American Statesman. In the ad, Walden attempts to convince Austin readers that the local chain of Cook-Walden Funeral Home locations are the same now as they have been for the last 100 years. The advertisement has drawn sharp criticism, as many are claiming to be simply misleading. Cook-Walden originally had just one funeral home 40 years ago. It is now owned by Service Corporation International (SCI)-the largest funeral home and cemetery chain in the world.

According to the history of Cook-Walden funeral services published at its own website, in the late 1800s a funeral home was opened in downtown Austin by Samuel E. Rosengren. In 1920, Charles B. Cook purchased that business. In 1971, Charles Walden purchased Cook Funeral Home. The name was changed to Cook-Walden. Shortly thereafter, Charles Walden bought two adjacent cemeteries in the Pflugerville area. In 1985, he bought Davis Funeral Home in Georgetown, then Forest Oaks funeral and cemetery in 1992. The two funeral homes at the Pflugerville cemeteries location and on Hwy. 183 at Anderson Mill were built more recently.

In 1997, Cook-Walden sold all of its operations to SCI. The recent open letter in the Statesman claims that in 1993 the Cook-Walden chain joined the Dignity Memorial(R) network (a registered service mark of SCI). But Cook-Walden could not have joined the Dignity Memorial(R) network until 2004 because that network did not exist until then, and that network is used only by SCI-owned facilities.

Charles Walden has claimed to provide some consulting services, since the 1997 purchase by the corporation. However, most people are unclear on his exact involvement.

Another local news column and a social media website, Connecting Directors, has taken issue with the advertisement and pointed out the historical inaccuracies as well as a growing number of online forums where current and former employees of the company are expressing their opinions.

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Service Corporation International Purchases 70% of Cremation Provider Neptune Society

Houston, Texas

The largest funeral and cremation provider in North America, Houston-based Service Corporation International, will now be even larger. The company (NYSE:SCI) officially announced the purchase of 70% of the outstanding shares of The Neptune Society.

Neptune is the nation’s largest direct cremation organization, with annual revenues of more than $55 million and a network of 30 locations in nine states. Through an active preneed sales program, Neptune has built a backlog of future revenues of more than $125 million.  Neptune operates under the brand names Neptune Society, Neptune Cremation Service and Trident Society.

Neptune’s owner, BG Capital Management Corp., a diversified private equity company, will continue to hold 30% of the outstanding shares, and the company will continue to be managed by its current Chief Executive Officer, Marco Markin.

“We look forward to welcoming Neptune’s associates into the SCI family of businesses,” said Thomas L. Ryan, SCI President and CEO. “This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for us to join forces with the largest and fastest growing direct cremation company in North America. Neptune serves a segment of the market that will continue to grow and that we do not currently target through our traditional funeral service and cemetery network. In addition to building on Neptune’s successful growth and customer service we will be able to yield immediate synergies by providing back office and fulfillment support through SCI’s infrastructure.”

Marco Markin, CEO of Neptune commented, “In our stage of rapid growth and development, it is the perfect time to partner with a company having SCI’s scale, resources and capital. Neptune is a great organization with fabulous employees and we are all excited to pursue the tremendous growth prospects ahead of us.”

My Take?

It’s the next logical move for them. Traditional funerals are becoming a thing of the past and cremation is dominant. Firms that aren’t finely-tuned into the cremation market will continue to suffer. I have to wonder though, how Neptune’s previous pricing structure will be affected….I guess we’ll soon find out.

Widow Suing Houston-Based Funeral Corporation, SCI, for $16M for Gross Misconduct

Nashville, Tennessee

Conduct of national company’s local workers called ‘outrageous, grossly negligent’.

A Nashville woman is seeking $16 million in damages for alleged “outrageous, grossly negligent, indecent, reckless” conduct by a death care services provider.

Sharon McNabb filed suit against SCI Tennessee Funeral Services (Houston-based Service Corporation International) (NYSE:SCI) in Davidson County Circuit Court this week, claiming the company’s local workers botched burial arrangements for her deceased husband and “talked her into” cremating his body.

According to the complaint, Andrew Raymond McNabb had purchased a plot at Woodlawn Memorial Park from Woodlawn Funeral Home in 1989. After his death on Dec. 17, Sharon arranged for a Dec. 20 viewing and Dec. 21 service at Eastland Funeral Home before the interment at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

The arrangements were proceeding according to plan until SCI workers notified the McNabb family — during the funeral service — that they in fact had no burial plot at Woodlawn and said the “best thing” to do was cremate the body. According to the complaint, McNabb consented, though she was “completely distraught” and “heavily sedated” at the time.

Then, more than a week after the cremation, McNabb received a notice from the Tennessee National Guard War Records Section that her husband was a veteran and was eligible for burial at the VA Cemetery — notice that SCI had received the day before the funeral.

“Instead of telling her that he could be buried in a VA Cemetery, SCI staff talked her into letting them cremate him for a fee, when at the time it should have been obvious that she was suffering from great emotional distress,” the complaint reads. “This conduct was outrageous, grossly negligent, indecent, reckless, and willful and the kind that is not tolerated by civilized society.”

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Whatever Happened To …The Embalmer Who Blew The Whistle on Service Corporation International?

Steven Napper had had enough, and in his case that meant he had seen too many bodies haphazardly placed in a Falls Church funeral home’s garage, deceased veterans resting on racks for months awaiting burial, and practices that were generally disrespectful to the dead.

So the embalmer — a retired Maryland state trooper — chose to become a high-profile whistleblower, telling Virginia authorities about abuses he had witnessed within the nation’s largest funeral services company. He then explained it all in a front-page Washington Post investigation in 2009. He left National Funeral Home and its parent Service Corporation International just as the situation reached its peak.

Then the Virginia Board for Funeral Directors and Embalmers found SCI responsible for inappropriate treatment of bodies and issued one of the harshest fines it has ever meted out. Virginia legislators, spurred by what Napper had witnessed, changed Virginia laws to require funeral homes to follow stricter methods of storing and handling bodies.

Napper has since opened a funeral home of his own.

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Judge Sanctions Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI) For Evidence Tampering In Cemetery Case

Los Angeles, California

A Los Angeles judge has sanctioned Houston-based Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI), owner of Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills, after finding that the cemetery intentionally tampered with and destroyed evidence related to a class action lawsuit alleging that Eden mishandled human remains.

Judge Anthony J. Mohr of the Los Angeles Superior Court ordered that the plaintiff’s attorney will be allowed to present evidence to the jury showing that SCI willfully tampered with evidence, and the judge will inform jurors that they may reasonably conclude that the destroyed evidence could have been damaging.

The allegations include that the cemetery broke concrete vaults to squeeze more graves into small spaces, and that when bones fell out of the broken vaults, groundskeepers were instructed to discard of the remains in the cemetery dump and  Eden secretly buried bodies in the wrong plots and misplaced or lost remains.

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Funeral Giant Service Corporation International Suing Another Funeral Home Over Name Rights

Syracuse, New York

Fifteen years ago, one of the biggest funeral chains in North America added Syracuse to its empire by paying more than $6 million for Pirro & Sons, one of the area’s most prestigious and successful mortuaries.

As it does in other cities, Service Corporation International went on to snap up other area mom-and-pop funeral homes in Syracuse to add to its chain of more than 1,200 mortuaries.

Now the Pirros have split from SCI and one has started an independent mortuary, Thomas J. Pirro Funeral Home, in Salina. That move has sparked a fight between SCI and the well-known Syracuse family of morticians over the right to use the name “Pirro.”

“The biggest problem is: It’s confusing to consumers,” SCI spokeswoman Lisa Marshall said.

Pirro Jr., 39, a fourth-generation mortician, said customers are confused because they don’t know who they are dealing with when they call Pirro & Sons to arrange funerals.

“They don’t realize there are no Pirros there anymore,” he said. “People are calling, thinking they will get the Pirros and they aren’t.”

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