- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas’ attorney general filed a civil lawsuit Thursday against a funeral home whose owners face criminal charges after regulators found bodies stacked on top of each other and some stored outside of a freezer.

In her consumer protection lawsuit, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked a Pulaski County judge to impose civil penalties against Arkansas Funeral Care.

The Jacksonville funeral home’s license was suspended last year after the state licensing agency investigated complaints by a former employee and found a cooler “filled beyond capacity with bodies” and bodies “stacked on top of each other.”

The funeral home’s owners - LeRoy Wood and his son Rod Wood - and its former director Edward Snow have pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of corpse abuse each related to 31 bodies and 22 sets of cremated remains that were removed from the facility. A hearing has been scheduled for March 28, and a jury trial is scheduled for late April.

Attorneys representing Rod Wood and Snow didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday afternoon. Former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said his firm is representing LeRoy Wood in the criminal case, but not in Rutledge’s lawsuit.

“Arkansas consumers have been financially and emotionally harmed by the unconscionable business practices of these defendants,” the lawsuit said.

Rutledge’s lawsuit names the two owners as defendants and 20 other unnamed owners and managers of the shuttered funeral home. In her lawsuit, she asks the court to impose civil penalties against the home and to pay restitution to consumers affected by the home’s violations.

Several families who claim their relatives’ bodies were not treated with proper care by the funeral home have filed separate lawsuits against the home since its closure last year.

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