In September, 2007, Jeff Palmore, owner of Bell Funeral Home in St Louis, arranged a burial at Pacific City Cemetery. To save the family the $525 fee the cemetery sexton was charging, he offered to dig the grave himself. Sexton Alan Bruns refused, saying there was a city ordinance that only allowed sextons to dig graves. Palmore researched it, and found there indeed was such an ordinance, but noted it also set the fee at $360, not $525.
Palmore has filed suit against Bruns and the city of Pacific for the overcharge in small claims court. The judge there ruled the city had sovereign immunity; Palmore appealed that decision, and added a claim for punitive damages, alleging overcharging for burials, selling people grave spaces they already own and digging up and disposing of dead bodies, all with the tacit approval of the city.
It’s been a contentious time since then, with an argument during a funeral where the police were called. The city administrator is siding with Bruns, a fourth-generation sexton. No court date has been set for the new case.