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Lawsuit Filed Against Arkansas Funeral Home And Owner

Whitney Murph Hal Cook
Jayme Goad

The family of a Jacksonville man has filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Funeral Care and its owner LeRoy Wood. The suit, announced at a press conference Monday, alleges that Kenny Alton Smith’s funeral had to be done with a closed casket due to negligence by the funeral home staff.

When asked about the motivations behind the suit, Hal Cook, an attorney for the Smith family said, “I think they want to do the right thing. They want other people to come forward and be comforted and get some type of closure that they’re going to hopefully ultimately get.”

According to the court filing, Smith’s wife claimed “devastating emotional distress” after viewing the decayed state of her husband’s body, which had been left in the care of the funeral home. Smith’s wife said attempts to view the body prior to the day of the funeral were repeatedly declined. Citing religious necessity, the court document said she was finally allowed to view the body in private and “was overwhelmed by the revolting and obnoxious odor… [and] deteriorated flesh falling off his face and hands.” 

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of complaints against the funeral home alleging the mishandling of bodies. Last week, Wood’s license was revoked by the Arkansas Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors after a preliminary investigation. The facility has also been closed.

A call to Arkansas Funeral Care seeking comment went to an answering service, which claimed it was instructed not to take messages and could not answer queries regarding the allegations.

David Monteith worked as a reporter for KUAR News between 2015 and July 2022.