You Say Healthcare; Siouxsie Says Deathcare

foggy graveyardForget about being sick.  What about being dead?
Siouxsie spends a lot time in cemeteries and knows what really goes on.  Quite frankly, the American deathcare system is a mess.  Legislative reform is needed to protect not only the living, but also the dead and the undead.

Just look at some recent examples.

This past summer, prosecutors charged the owners at Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago with “body dumping.”  “Body dumping?”  Siouxsie will explain:  It is what some cemeteries do to make more room — they dig up bodies, dump them somewhere, and resell the plots.  Burr Oak allegedly dug up between 300 and 400 graves, and then used a back-hoe to dump the bodies in a weedy and secluded spot.   Burr Oak is also accused with double-burying existing plots.  An innovative and easy way to sell the same plot twice.

In April, Menorah Gardens Cemetery in Palm Beach Florida (of Service Corporation Inc. “SCI”*) paid out $100 million to settle “body dumping” litigation.  Just like Burr Oak, the ritzy Jewish cemetery moved bodies to make more room.  Like Burr Oak, they used a back-hoe to dump 350 bodies (give or take a few) in a mass grave.

It is not just cemeteries.  Funeral homes are often front-and-center; typically involved in body-parts scandals.  New Jersey, a state that is dear to Siousxie’s heart, became home to one such scandal in 2006 when the owner of a New Jersey-based biomedical company confessed that he had been illegally harvesting body parts from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania funeral homes.

And crematories have been known to have their fair share of scandal.  The most well-known involved Tri-State Crematory in Georgia — where the crematory stopped cremating the bodies because their incinerator didn’t work; so they simply dumped the bodies in the surrounding woods.

This venting doesn’t even touch upon price-fixing, pre-need ripoffs and overcharging.  Perhaps in a later post.

What can be done about all this?  Siouxsie says think about deathcare the next time someone says healthcare.

Click here for more information on recent legislative efforts to strengthen consumer protection laws in this area.

*An interesting aside — SCI is the largest funeral home chain in America — it is the Walmart of funeral homes.  An insider tip from Siouxsie – SCI typically refuses to advertise that it is the owner of a particular funeral home.  So to know whether you are shopping at the Walmart of funeral homes look for their secret-code word —  Dignity.  If you see that word on the funeral home’s business cards, letterhead, or general price list – it is an SCI funeral home.

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~ by siouxsielaw on October 13, 2009.

8 Responses to “You Say Healthcare; Siouxsie Says Deathcare”

  1. Fascinating! And creepy. Particularly the bit about SCI and their secret code word.

  2. also, it bears pointing out that this post generated some awesome links to “possibly related” blogs.

  3. The way we (especially Americans) culturally deal with remains is in need of serious reform. There are ways to honor our human requirements for processing death (and life) without all the pathology. Who really needs to be abused by another corrupt system? I wonder what Siouxsie thinks about Green Burials. Not very flashy but it has an interesting gore-factor and is at least stepping outside the usual deathcare box to incite discussion.

  4. Alex, you make an interesting point. There may indeed be ways to goth up a green burial. Elegant and environmentally responsible are not (and should not be) mutually exclusive. This may need to be returned to in a later post.

  5. […] is on to SCI (the Walmart of funeral homes and cemeteries).  Previously, Siouxsie posted about the 350 bodies removed from their graves at SCI-owned  Menorah Gardens […]

  6. Does anyone know of a list of the homes SCI owns throughout the US?
    If they are a national company, shouldn’t their crimes be dealt with in a court that can address all of their transgressions at once rather than state to state?
    If they are guilty of fraud in several states, common sense would dictate they should not be allowed to operate.
    Are they related to the Neptune society that buries your loved ones at sea? I’ve read that the Neptune Society is a Rip-off chain also.

    • I am not aware of a complete list. But if you are wondering about specific funeral homes or cemeteries, you can check to see if they use the Dignity logo. (SCI doesn’t operate under their own name.)
      There is no national law or organization that regulates funeral homes or cemeteries. The FTC’s funeral rule is quite limited in scope. That is why it is difficult to bring them into federal court for multiple transgressions.

      I don’t know much about the Neptune Society. I’ll look them up. Perhaps, I can blog about them.

  7. I recently decided that I needed to make some plans for my final journey. Since I am in that age bracket, and there will be nobody left behind, to take care of it.
    I had recently received a card from the Neptune Society, and decided to mail it in. I expected to receive some sort of brochure, explaining their services. Instead I received a phone call from a woman. She said “we do not send out information in the mail, we will come to your home and talk with you about this important decision”. This immediately set off an alarm. I told her, that I did not want anyone coming to my home. Couldn’t we meet at their office. First she hemmed and hawed, and suggested a third location like a restaurant. I said no, in your office. So she finally agreed.
    Last night I decided to google “Neptune Society” and was surprised to find so much, about them and deceitful practices. I then went to their website, and looked at one of their film clips. it was about their “memorial reef” off the Miami coast. Talk about the Disneyfying of Death! It looked like something out of Pirates of the Carribbean! Needless to say, this morning I called them and cancelled our little meeting.

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