Lawyer Pushes Forward on Bayview Cremetory Suits
SEABROOK – Thanks to a ruling by a Boston Federal District Court judge last week, attorneys for families concerned that they had not received the proper cremains from the Seabrook-based Bayview Crematorium will be able to continue to work on their cases.
Judge Reginald Lindsay extended deadlines for the case of Massachusetts Secretary of State Ed Galvin v. Bayview Crematory LLC., et al. That will allow the attorneys to continue working on behalf of those families. The Jan. 22 deadline for motions was extended to Feb. 23 “for service of motions for summary judgment and the time for service of answers to expert interrogatories,” the Jan. 20 court decision read.
Part of that process involves interviewing former Bayview owner Derek Wallace. One problem attorneys faced was gaining access to Wallace, who is serving a 1½- to 3-year sentence in the New Hampshire State Prison.
Florida attorney David Charlip, who represents approximately 20 of the families, said his team began deposing Wallace. Charlip said information from the depositions has been helpful to his civil cases against the crematorium and several area funeral homes, but would not discuss the information in detail. He said his team would be back to talk to Wallace again in the near future.
Wallace, however, has not admitted to any mishandling of cremains, Charlip said. “I wouldn’t expect Mr. Wallace to admit to anything like that,” Charlip said.
Authorities searching the Bayview Crematory in February 2005 found records in disarray, a dozen sets of remains without identification, two bodies in the same oven and a decomposing body in a broken refrigeration unit. Those discoveries – and the lack of regulation of New Hampshire crematories – prompted lawmakers to pass stricter rules on licensing and inspection.
In February 2008, Wallace was sentenced to prison by a Rockingham Superior Court judge and ordered to pay $240,000 in restitution on tax-evasion charges. The Salisbury, Mass., resident pleaded guilty in 2007 to the charges. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed five other criminal counts that alleged Wallace accepted money for illegal cremations at Seabrook crematory.
Others, including Wallace’s mother and stepfather, had already been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the crematorium raid.
Three people whose family members were cremated at Bayview made emotional statements to the judge at the sentencing hearing.
“The agony you’ve put your victims through will never be repaired,” Jane McCarthy said, speaking to Wallace.
“Are the ashes we received those of our mother? I doubt you know or even care,” Joy Cahill said.
Wallace was one of five people convicted in connection with Bayview. Former Newburyport, Mass., surgeon Dr. Putnam Breed was also named in at least one pending lawsuit in Essex County. Breed, who is facing a six-month jail term on fraud-related charges, is awaiting a decision from the state Supreme Court, which is considering his appeal.
Charlip initially sought class action status for 184 clients he represented in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. However, that request was denied by the courts in 2007, forcing people to go it alone if they wanted to sue the business. In the wake of that decision, people have either settled their cases, pushed for trial or had their cases dismissed, according to review of cases in U.S. District Court and Essex County Superior Court.
Charlip filed various suits between 2005 and 2008 against those associated with Bayview and area funeral homes that used it for cremations