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Funeral home's license suspended after wrong boy cremated

Wire • Aug 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM

The state has suspended the license of a North Linden funeral home that failed to catch a mistake by the coroner's office and had the wrong body cremated.

Marlan J. Gary, owner of the Marlan J. Gary Funeral Home on Cleveland Avenue, will lose his funeral director's license for six months under a ruling by the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

The state board also suspended the funeral home's license for six months.

"Cremation is irreversible, so it is vitally important that every precaution and safeguard be taken to ensure accuracy," hearing officer Marc Myers said in a report to the board. "The funeral director cannot simply rely on another, be it a driver or the coroner's office, to 'get it right.'"

Gary's funeral home had 14-month-old Jaylen Talley cremated in May 2010 after a coroner's office employee mistakenly released the child's body to a driver whom Gary employed.

Gary's funeral home was supposed to handle the body of a 22-day-old boy.

Both bodies were identified correctly, but the coroner's employee, the driver and the business hired by Gary for the cremation did not check to ensure they had the right boy.

Cremation is against the religious beliefs of Talley's parents. He had suffered with breathing problems during his short life.

Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak fired the forensic technician who made the mistake, changed procedures and added new technology to reduce the chances of such errors happening again.

Gary contested charges by the funeral directors board that he was responsible for identifying a body released to his business.

"Funeral directors have to be able to depend on identification made by the coroner," said his attorney, T. Scott Gilligan.

Gilligan said a six-month suspension of Gary's licenses is too harsh for an error that was made by two other people.

The funeral board cited state law that requires funeral directors to certify the identity of the person whose body they are handling.

Board Director Malik Hubbard said the seven-member panel voted unanimously for the suspension.

Gary has not yet decided whether to appeal, Gilligan said.

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By Robert Vitale - The Columbus Dispatch (MCT)

Copyright (c) 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

To see more of The Columbus Dispatch, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.columbusdispatch.com.

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