Was punishment for refrigerator fail at Carlisle mortuary appropriate?

CARLISLE, OH (FOX19) - There's been a surprising settlement with the crematorium in Carlisle, which lost its license temporarily back in August.

FOX19 NOW requested the settlement agreement between the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors and Premium Mortuary Services. The Board approved it more than a month ago, but it took us that long to get it.

We need to warn you, as you read on, some of the details inside are very disturbing. We're giving you more graphic detail than we normally would, so you can consider for yourself if the punishment is appropriate.

Inside the more than 30 pages, FOX19 NOW uncovered more gruesome details about what exactly happened at Premium Mortuary Services this past summer - the refrigerator failed. An inspector noticed the smell of decomposing bodies outside a garage door, which separates the cooler area from the crematory. The door was open 2 to 3 inches.

Inside, he found dead flies on the floor and others alive and flying around, and according to his report, it was 95 degrees in there.

He found three deceased bodies in cardboard alternative cremation containers one on a cot and two others on a table. These three bodies were embalmed, he reported.

Inside a three-person cooler, he found three cardboard containers with three bodies in there, which were not embalmed. One of the bodies had mold on its face and liquid in its body bag.  Another body's face was beginning to mummify. And the third body's cardboard container had absorbed what appeared to be the oil from the fat of the body breaking down.

[RELATED: Warren County mortuary shut down after state finds rotting corpses]

"I'm still kind of numb from it, haven't had time to even grieve," said Sharon Hart, a Dayton-area mother who's part of a civil lawsuit.

She had been waiting several weeks for the urn holding her son Antwan's ashes.

She had no idea her son was being cremated in Carlisle.

"Just hoping to die, that my loved one wasn't there and then when I did find out, I was devastated," said Hart.

She got the urn with his cremated remains, just days after this story broke, but wonders is it all him inside that urn?

"Bodies, people that were cremated, were mixed up, left on the floor, and treated improperly," said attorney Richard Schulte, who is representing Hart.

In the same cooler which held Antwan Hurston's body, according to the report, the inspector confirmed at least four bodies were not embalmed, but was not able to determine if all  of the bodies had been embalmed or not.

In that same space, another body tagged, 'LS',  the inspector said had "severe decomposition" with "multiple maggots consuming/living in and on the decaying body of LS."

"Families deserve more respect," said Schulte, who believes all of the families involved here, deserve the truth.

"We're hopeful, that by bringing this action, the State of Ohio will take this company's license and it'll never be allowed to do this to another family again," said Schulte.

The State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors saw it differently, fining Premium Mortuary Services just $500, based on guidelines, and this being Premium Mortuary's first offense.

The total number of deceased human beings found: 18 - 15 adults and three babies.

The inspector also found residue of cremated remains and bone fragments from previous cremations. A "noticeable amount of processed cremains in the bottom of the stainless steel tub," and a "collection of bone and cremation fragments next to the tub".

There were seven violations for failing to keep seven deceased human bodies, not embalmed, in a working refrigerated facility. Seven violations for committing immoral or unprofessional conduct.

One violation for failing to remove from the cremation chamber, all of the cremation residue that is practically recoverable.

According to the settlement agreement, the Crematory Review Board could not prove any of the 15 violations, so they lifted the suspension.

Premium Mortuary Services admits, they failed, in terms of keeping the cremation chamber clear.

The inspector has been back and has since, found them in compliance.

Schulte never specified the compensation he was seeking in the civil lawsuit, and not only Hart, but listed the other families affected by the mistakes made at Premium Mortuary Services, which was given 60 days to pay their $500 fine.

As of Tuesday morning, it had not yet been paid. Board Director Jarrod Williams said they have just a few more days to pay that penalty.

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