Michigan Residents Shocked by Mishandling of Corpses and Unsanitary Conditions at Funeral Homes
Swanson Funeral Home in Flint, Michigan was shut down earlier this month by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) after investigators found unrefrigerated bodies in the funeral home’s garage, with maggots crawling all over the garage floor and door. Some of the bodies had been in the garage for more than ninety days, and some had been in there for close to five months. The garage also had cardboard cremation containers stacked throughout, with fluids leaking from the cardboard.
The funeral home smelled of decomposing bodies, with the stench being noticeable 30 feet away. Inspectors also found casket pillows that were covered in blood and fluid stains strewn about the floor of the hallway. In the preparation room, there was an absence of the supplies and equipment necessary to maintain sanitary conditions. The funeral home didn’t even have a Medical Waste Management Plan, which is a requirement under the Medical Waste Regulatory Act.
There have been various complaints about this funeral home filed with officials over the last few years. In May, Flint residents trusted Swanson Funeral Home with their mother’s burial. When the sons arrived at the funeral home to say their goodbyes, they were shocked to discover that the woman in the casket was wearing their mother’s clothes and wig, but was not actually their mother. A stranger had been placed in their mother’s casket. When the sons brought the mistake to the funeral staff’s attention, they initially insisted that the body was, in fact, the correct person. When the staff finally admitted that they made a mistake, they offered no explanation to the family.
In 2002, I helped a family with a somewhat similar case. The case involved two 13 year-old boys who passed away after being hit by a drunk driver. The boys’ bodies were identified at the hospital by their grieving families. One boy’s family decided to have him cremated. The other boy’s family chose a burial. When family and friends arrived at the boy’s viewing, they were stunned to see the wrong body in the casket. The funeral home had cremated the wrong child.
These reports of improper handling of bodies have shocked people throughout Michigan. People who have upcoming funeral arrangements at Swanson Funeral Home or who have questions about the funeral home are urged to call the Corporations, Securities, & Commercial Licensing Bureau (CSCL) at 517-241-7000.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.