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Month remains for families to opt-out of class action lawsuit against Penrose funeral home owners

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -When Richard Law found out his father, Roger, was one of the 189 bodies found improperly stored inside the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, he decided to sue the owners and allow other families to join in. 

Immediate family members of Return to Nature victims are already included in the class action lawsuit against the Hallfords at no legal cost. In court Tuesday, it was stated any individuals who wanted to opt out of the case must do so by Mar. 29. 

Roger Law was a man of many lives. He was a marine, a professional baseball player with the Baltimore Orioles, and the owner of a local shoe business.

“He was a real jokester, prankster,” Richard said of his father. “He had so many friends, loved to play cards and go to CC hockey games.”

In 2020, Roger was diagnosed with COVID-19. A week later he died. He was supposed to be cremated by Return to Nature Funeral Home, but Richard eventually learned that didn’t happen. Like many other families, he was given fake ashes of concrete mix and his father’s death certificate listed the name of a crematory that never cremated his body.

“What you do with the remains, with their body, is like the last act of care,” Richard said. “It's the last tangible, practical act of care that we get to provide for our loved ones.”

That last act of love was never completed. In October, Roger was identified as one of the 189 bodies improperly stored inside an abandoned funeral home in Penrose.

“This last act of love and care and these people take these bodies and they dispose of them like a bag of garbage,” Richard said.

When Richard found out what happened he filed a lawsuit on October 30 against the owners, Jon and Carie Hallford, and decided to allow other families of victims to join. The lawsuit is now a class action and includes immediate family members of victims identified in Penrose.

“I'm not looking to get rich off of this at all,” Richard said. “This is more about me sticking up for my dad's good name. That's what this is about and anybody else that wants to do the same is welcome to join in.”

There is no guarantee plaintiffs in this lawsuit will see any financial gain. In fact, Richard said he doesn’t think he will see any and he said he’s okay with that. KRDO13 Investigates has extensively reported about the Hallford’s financial troubles, including a number of other civil lawsuits trying to get unpaid money from the Hallfords.

“I don't know if anything will come of this financially,” Richard said. “That's not the point. The point is I wanted to stick up for my dad. The last word on Roger Law won't be that he was dumped in an empty building like a bag of garbage somewhere.”

KRDO13 Investigates asked Richard what he wanted the last word on his father to be.

“He was a good man,” Richard said. “A community man, a family man.”

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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