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$40-Million Settlement Reached in Georgia Crematory Scandal

March 12, 2004|From Associated Press

ROME, Ga. — The families of more than 300 people whose bodies were found strewn across the grounds of a Georgia crematory will receive nearly $40 million in a settlement announced Thursday with the business and 58 funeral homes across the South.

The funeral homes agreed to pay $36 million and the insurer for Tri-State Crematory $3.5 million.

The Marsh family, which operates the crematory, also agreed to preserve two acres as a tribute to the dead.

Robert Darroch, a lawyer for the families of the dead, said of the settlement: "Hopefully this gives them a chance to get past this and heal."

The families brought a federal class-action lawsuit in 2002 after crematory operator Ray Brent Marsh was arrested and accused of dumping 334 bodies instead of cremating them. Investigators say he gave families cement dust instead of their loved ones' ashes. Marsh still faces 787 state felony charges.

The funeral homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama had sent the bodies to the crematory from 1988 to 2002.

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