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Funeral home ordered to pay $900,000 for mishandling remains

A South Shore funeral home was ordered Tuesday to pay more than $900,000 in damages after being held liable for mishandling remains.

Seven families claimed in a lawsuit filed in February in Cook County Circuit Court that their relatives’ bodies were improperly stored at Carter Funeral Chapels. Investigators found the funeral home operated for months without heat or electricity and that the owner, Henry Carter III, was not a licensed funeral director or embalmer.

Circuit Judge John Kirby awarded each plaintiff damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, deceptive practices and fraud, totalling $937,950.

Tamika Richardson, the original plaintiff in the suit, claimed she suffered emotional distress after learning her mother’s body was mishandled at the funeral home at 2100 E. 75th.

The suit claimed the remains of Richardson’s mother, Constance Denise Smith, were received by the funeral home on Jan. 7 but she did not learn until Feb. 20 that the facility was operating without electricity, and bodies remained for an “unreasonable” amount of time without proper storage available.

Richardson called Carter on Feb. 21 and found that her mother’s corpse was still being held at the funeral home and hadn’t yet been cremated, the suit said.

The other plaintiffs claimed similarly disturbing stories.

The suit claimed the funeral home should have properly honored and respected family members by storing, preserving, cremating and memorializing the bodies stored there.

Carter Funeral Chapels did not respond Wednesday to a call for comment.

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