The licensing actions for Bartlett Funeral Home Inc. and former funeral director Al Tacker happened at the October 2017 meeting of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, which governs the funeral industry.
Tacker’s funeral director license was revoked and he was fined $8,000. The TDCI also suspended the funeral home’s license for six months and fined it an $8,000 civil penalty.
A TDCI spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for information on Tuesday, but other media reports said TDCI gave this account: Two men’s funeral services and burials were arranged around the same time, close to Christmas 2015, at the funeral home. Reportedly, the wrong man was presented at one service and buried in the other man’s grave. One family was notified, the erroneously buried body was disinterred, and the two men were switched to their proper placements.
Tacker is now being accused of not notifying the other family that they held a service with the wrong deceased person and not reimbursing them for the service.
Tacker said in an exclusive interview Tuesday morning that he is being sued by the two families involved in this case. Because a lawsuit is involved, he declined to summarize the allegations or speak about any of the details involved.
He’s a 47-year veteran of the Memphis-area funeral industry who says he has a good reputation and positive relationships with the families he has served. He has filed for a stay, which is essentially an appeal about the TDCI’s decision. If that fails, he will take the case to chancery court in hopes of getting his funeral director’s license restored and the funeral home’s suspension lifted.
Tacker said, “I’ve got the obligation going forward to get the truth out there and protect the people I’ve talked to and helped all these years.”
What worries him most, he said, is how the news could hurt the people he serves: Some people who have pre-need arrangements with his funeral home have been advised to cash in their funeral insurance policies and make arrangements with a different funeral home.
That’s bad advice, he said: Their current arrangements lock in older and much-lower prices, and he doesn’t want them to face steeper prices elsewhere for no reason.
While he can’t operate as a funeral director, Tacker said he can talk to people and give them information based on his decades of experience in the industry. If any pre-need clients of Bartlett Funeral Home (or their beneficiaries) have questions or concerns, he advises them to call and speak to him directly.
“I will share information with you or your family for your wishes to be met,” he said.
Bartlett Funeral Home will be back in business again when its six-month suspension is up, Tacker said.
The entire circumstances have been devastating financially and have broken his heart, he said. “It’s clutching me like you would stomp on a cigarette butt and squash it out on the pavement.”
He added, though, that it’s also given him faith in humanity. People are calling him to extend their support and trust and to say, “This cannot be completely and totally accurate and true.”