By Brian Lazenby
A judge dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by Walker County against Tri-State Crematory and funeral homes that did business there in an attempt to recoup much of the clean-up costs after hundreds of bodies were discovered at the Noble, Ga., site in 2002.
Senior Superior Court Judge William J. Smith dismissed the $2 million lawsuit against all defendants for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the order states.
Chattanooga lawyer Stuart James, who represents the crematory, praised the judges ruling, which bars Walker County from re-filing the complaint.
Judge Smith did the right thing, he said. Were glad this is behind us.
The judges ruling allows Walker County to appeal the dismissal.
Dalton, Ga., lawyer Joe Leman, who represents Walker County, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Mr. James said it will be about a year before the appellate court rules on the appeal. He said he is not concerned that the Court of Appeals will reverse the judges ruling.
Walker County does not have grounds to make a claim, he said.
The lawsuit was an attempt to collect for the thousands of dollars spent during the clean-up and recovery period after 334 bodies meant for cremation were discovered stacked on the crematory property and buried in earthen pits.
In November 2004, the crematory settled an $80 million federal class-action lawsuit with a class of about 1,600 family members whose relatives bodies had been sent there.
Plaintiffs are attempting to collect the settlement from the Marsh homeowners insurance carrier, Georgia Farm Bureau. The case is pending before Walker County Superior Court.
Former Crematory operator Brent Marsh was charged with 787 felony counts related to stockpiling hundreds of bodies meant for cremation. He pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to serve 12 years of a 75-year prison sentence.
According to a plea agreement, the remaining time will be served on unsupervised probation.
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