Funeral Directors Dump Casket at State Office
Mar. 20, 1990
SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) _ Two funeral directors left a casket with a body inside at a state social services office to protest government reimbursement rates for indigent burials.
P.J. Kane and Mark Ferries, who work with different Sheridan funeral homes, said they meant no disrespect to the deceased. They said the ploy was needed to get the attention of the Department of Public Assistance and Social Services, which sets the limit for indigent burial expenses.
The two men left the casket at the office for two hours Friday.
Kane said the department will pay up to $995 for the burial of anyone who was receiving aid under the Wyoming Public Assistance and Social Services Act. He said $995 doesn't come close to covering the cost of a burial.
''We will not turn anybody away from a decent burial,'' he said, ''but, being in private business, we cannot buy a cemetery lot, pay for burial costs and a vault out of our own pockets.''
Many Wyoming counties cover the difference between the state limit and the actual expense. However, Sheridan County's indigent burial fund has apparently run dry, and county officials say there won't be any more money coming to cover the costs.
State social service officials, the county attorney's office and the state attorney general's office all told the funeral directors to file a lawsuit to get the law changed.
The Rev. Ray Moss, who accompanied the funeral directors and the casket to the office, said the woman whose body was in the casket had no family in Sheridan and her estate would not cover the cost of a burial.