Share story

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A central Montana county has settled a lawsuit filed by a funeral home in Lewistown because the coroner’s office was housed in a funeral home owned by the coroner.

Fergus County Attorney Kent Sipe tells The Billings Gazette that the county will pay $5,000 to Creel Funeral Home and move the coroner’s office from Cloyd Funeral Home to the sheriff’s office in 2019.

Creel’s owners filed a complaint in August 2016 alleging that after Coroner Dick Brown investigated a death he would assign the bodies to his private business and benefit financially.

An investigation by Sipe and an attorney with the Montana Association of Counties found Cloyd Funeral Home had a “built-in advantage” because Brown is the coroner.

Creel owner Ralph Mihlfeld says he’s satisfied with the settlement.

___

Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com