Six Mainers filed suit Friday against Affordable Cremation Solution, the Lewiston business shuttered in June for allegedly mishandling the remains of the dead.

The state closed Affordable Cremation Solution in Lewiston and pulled its license after finding unrefrigerated bodies at the facility. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

They argue in court papers that the cremation firm caused them “severe emotional harm” by allowing the corpses of family members to decompose without refrigeration for extended periods “and being unable to know with certainty that the remains” ultimately returned to them “are, in fact, those of their family members.”

The lawsuit, brought in Cumberland County Superior Court, alleges the company breached its contract with families and negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on grieving families who trusted it to handle remains with care.

The suit filed by attorneys Taylor Asen and Benjamin Gideon of New Gloucester says that Affordable Cremation’s conduct “was so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency.”

No reasonable person, the suit, “could be expected to endure” the severity of the distress caused by the mishandling of remains.

Affordable Cremation and its owner, Kenneth Kincer, have had their funeral licenses suspended by the state Board of Funeral Service since June 14. A case against them is on hold as both sides gather information for a potential hearing on whether to strip the business and Kincer of their licenses.

After an investigation that began in the spring, the state panel accused Kincer and his cremation business of unprofessional conduct and creating a public health problem by mishandling the remains of customers.

The lawyer for Kincer and the company has repeatedly declined to comment on the case.

In June, just before the license suspension, an investigator found “an odor of decomposition” and the unrefrigerated remains of 11 people in the basement of the 643 Main St. establishment, including one sitting in an unsealed box because it was too big to fit in a body bag.

The lawsuit cites a few specific cases in which it alleges the business botched its job.

When Bruce Wurstle died on May 30 at Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center in Lewiston, it said, agents or employees of Affordable Cremation Solution picked up his body the same day.

His daughter, Leslie Pike, of North Yarmouth instructed the firm to cremate the body, the lawsuit said. She was told she could pick up the remains the following week.

But her attempts to reach someone on the phone proved fruitless until somebody answered on June 9 and told her that “nobody has been cremated.” The man told her Kincer was sick and “I can’t do this by myself.”

A week later, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner called her and told her they had possession of her father’s remains. She learned then that it had sat unrefrigerated until the state got involved more than two weeks after the company moved the body.

In another case, Scott Higgins died at his home in Portland on May 12, with son Jayson Allen at his side.

Someone from Affordable Cremation Solution came to get the body that evening, allegedly joking to Allen about “popping him in the crisper” for the cremation.

For the next three weeks, Allen and his sister, Angel Higgins-Lewey, called repeatedly seeking information from the firm without success, the suit said. Then, on May 28, someone at the company told her to transfer the body elsewhere because “Ken is delusional and needs to be shut down,” the suit claims.

After the corpse was transferred, the suit said, Higgins-Lewey learned her father’s body had been decaying for weeks without refrigeration.

In another case cited in the suit, John Pottle died in Otisfield on April 19. His nephew learned later that Affordable Cremation Solution had left it sitting unrefrigerated for the next six weeks, the suit said.

In the final case cited, the body of Joan Bouchard, who died in November, was also allegedly left for a couple of weeks without refrigeration before her husband, Tom, had it transferred to another business.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: