Cremation of 800-Pound Body Burns Crematoria In Richmond

220px-Verbrennung_eines_Toten_in_einem_Krematorium_2009-09-05There is an interesting, if somewhat off-putting, story out of Richmond where the Southside Cremation Services building was set ablaze during a cremation in its attempt to cremate an 800 pound man. Fire crews had to extinguish the flames caused by the excessive heat and oil from the cremation. The story stood out from an insurance stand point. I am not sure how such risks are addressed in standard insurance and liability plans. While the fire did not spread, it would have made for a fascinating proximate causation case. Presumably, the over-sized cremated man is at no liability risk.

There is not only the insurance question governing the damage to the crematoria but there is also the liability to any family members for a botched cremation. The manager was quick to stress that “There was no damage to the body that would not be normal; it remained within the retort and we are about to proceed with the remainder of the cremation.” The notion of “no damage . . . that would not be normal” in a cremation captures the bizarre liability issues in such a case.

This facility is apparently designed to handle large individuals — a classification system that has until now escaped me.

Source: Times Dispatch

13 thoughts on “Cremation of 800-Pound Body Burns Crematoria In Richmond”

  1. Hope he is Heaven bound…because if he isn’t; there’s gonna be Hell Fire to pay!

  2. “This facility is apparently designed to handle large individuals”. Perhaps the legal question here is whether the crematorium would have a case against the company that designed and built the facility, since it obviously did not perform properly as expected.

  3. One of the aspects I loved working civil litigation investigations was how you would learn so much about a business. In large subrogation, product liability cases I was immersed w/ cold storage fires, building collapses, machinery malfunctions, plane crashes, construction accidents, and many others too numerous to mention. I would get to work w/ electrical, mechanical, chemical engineers. Some were superb @ explaining to me in layman’s terms the important facts of the case. But, I never worked a crematorium case. It sounds like an intriguing case.

  4. This is hilarious, in a sick, black comedy sort of way.

    It almost feels like the ironic end of a Twilight Zone episode, where the man got his final revenge on all those in the town who pilloried him.

    It also lends credence to the theories put out there to explain spontaneous human combustion, where sedentary, overweight people seem to burn up completely while sitting in a chair or lying in their beds.
    The explanation is that there is a candle-like wicking effect that occurs when while prone a small accidental fire starts on their person, and due to their inebriation or incapacitation, they don’t put it out, but it then extends to burning their fat stores and results in a very hot, but strangely confined, combustion.

    If this 800lb fellow had that much more fat stores, it would not have been contained, rather the fats would have run all over the place, hence the uncontrolled fire.

  5. Since I do not weight 800 pounds and am not at risk for setting anything on fire, I plan on cremation with my ashes to be scattered in the beautiful Superstition Mountains.

  6. Well, the question is, is the estate of the deceased at risk here. It is his body that seems to have been the proximate cause of the fire and they asked for the cremation.

  7. “There was no damage to the body that would not be normal,” indeed! Cremation wastes lots of gas, and in many states, the funeral directors’ lobby has gotten legislation put into place that requires the wasteful use of a casket for the body to go into right before cremation. Wastes of money and environmental resources.

    I have decided to go with burial at sea – no formalin or other toxins to go into the environment. Shallow-grave burials where the intent and expectation are that the worms will get to you and recycle you are the landlubbing alternative. No problem there, either, unless large critters will dig you up and scatter your viscera and bones.

    Bodies hermetically sealed in $10K caskets eventually start to totally putrefy. And what’s the point? Only perhaps one in ten thousand burials is ever re-exhumed. “Preservation” of the corpse is impossible, unless you’re into expensive, anti-environmental freezing, as with Ted Williams.

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