Funeral home lawsuit raises questions about Indiana's inspection, oversight

State has only 4 inspectors

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Inspection Division has only four inspectors to oversee compliance with more than 11,000 barbershops, hair salons, funeral homes and cemeteries.

The Indiana Funeral Directors Association called the lack of oversight unfortunate in light of the disturbing allegations made against an Indianapolis funeral home.

"There is no way four people can do a credible job of inspecting many facilities in a reasonable time frame," said Curtis Rostad, executive director of the association. "And it's unfortunate that an alleged incident like this could not have been caught earlier when an inspector says what you're doing is going to lead to problems."

The lawsuit -- filed by the former director of Alpha Funeral Service, David Eckert -- says Eckert was forced to resign because he refused to fake the identities of three cadavers that had become lost.

Eckert alleges that he was ordered by the owner of Alpha Funeral Service to gather ashes from random remains and to falsely represent their identities before returning them to the IU Med School and the three families of their loved ones.

"I'm obviously very saddened by this, especially for the families involved. It's inexcusable. It's reprehensible. I don't know what other term I could use for it," Rostad said.

But Rostad doubts that Alpha Funeral Service had much oversight in the first place when it allegedly faked the identities which led to the suit.

Alpha Funeral Services has never been affiliated with the Indiana Funeral Directors Association, nor does it subscribe to the association's Code of Ethics.

In a statement issued Friday, the IU School of Medicine acknowledged a contract for transportation and cremations services with Alpha Funeral Services. The statement said IU is not a party to the lawsuit.

The law firm representing Alpha Funeral Service denies any and all allegations.

Metro police and the Marion County Prosecutor's Office said no one has formally requested a criminal investigation into the matter.

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