Craigmiles v. Giles, No. 1:99-CV-304.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtEdgar
Citation110 F.Supp.2d 658
PartiesNathaniel CRAIGMILES; Tommy Wilson; Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply; Angela Brent; Jerry Harwood; and Naenia Enterprises, LLC d/b/a the Casket Store, Plaintiffs, v. Arthur GILES, in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers; Larry Meriwether, Sr., Fred S. Wheeler, Lori Keen, Edward Larson, Charles B. Manes, Karen House, and Mack Wood, in their official capacities as Members of the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers; Paul G. Summers, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Tennessee; and John Hopkins, in his official capacity as the Director of Investigations for the Division of Regulatory Boards of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, Defendants.
Decision Date21 August 2000
Docket NumberNo. 1:99-CV-304.

Page 658

110 F.Supp.2d 658
Nathaniel CRAIGMILES; Tommy Wilson; Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply; Angela Brent; Jerry Harwood; and Naenia Enterprises, LLC d/b/a the Casket Store, Plaintiffs,
v.
Arthur GILES, in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers; Larry Meriwether, Sr., Fred S. Wheeler, Lori Keen, Edward Larson, Charles B. Manes, Karen House, and Mack Wood, in their official capacities as Members of the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers; Paul G. Summers, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Tennessee; and John Hopkins, in his official capacity as the Director of Investigations for the Division of Regulatory Boards of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, Defendants.
No. 1:99-CV-304.
United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, at Chattanooga.
August 21, 2000.

Page 659

Harold L North, Jr, Shumacker & Thompson, Chattanooga, TN, William H Mellor, Miranda Perry, Institute for Justice, Washington, DC, for Nathaniel Craigmiles, Tommy Wilson, Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply, Angela Brent, Jerry Harwood, Naenia Enterprises, LLC dba The Casket Store, plaintiffs.

Steven A Hart, Janet M Kleinfelter, Office of the Attorney General and Reporter, Civil Litigation/State Services Division, Nashville, TN, for Arthur Giles, Robert Gribble, William Powell, Lori Keen, Edward Larson, Richard Tetrick, Karen House, Mack Woods, Paul G Summers, John Hopkins, defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

EDGAR, Chief Judge.


I.

This is a civil rights lawsuit brought pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; the Civil Rights Act of 1871; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and the Declaratory Judgments Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 3331 - 3343. Plaintiffs Reverend Nathaniel Craigmiles, Tommy Wilson, Angela Brent, and Jerry Harwood seek to operate retail casket stores in Tennessee. Craigmiles and Wilson are partners in Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply. Brent and Harwood are members of Naenia Enterprises, LLC d/b/a The Casket Store. The defendants are all Tennessee state officials sued in their official capacities. Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the portion of the Tennessee Funeral Directors and Embalmers Act (the "FDEA" or "Act"), TENN. CODE ANN. §§ 62-5-101 - 62-5-611, that requires any person who sells "funeral merchandise" to hold a funeral director's license issued by the State of Tennessee.

Certain parts of the FDEA bear directly on the plaintiffs' ability to conduct their businesses. Specifically, only licensed funeral directors may lawfully engage in "funeral directing." TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-303. "Funeral directing" is defined to include, among other things, "Making of arrangements to provide for funeral services and/or the selling of funeral merchandise, and/or the making of financial arrangements for the rendering of the services, and/or the sale of such merchandise;" TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-101(3)(A)(ii). Businesses which engage in

Page 660

"funeral directing" must have a licensed funeral director in charge. TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-313. A violation of the FDEA is a misdemeanor. TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-103. None of the individual plaintiffs holds a Tennessee funeral directors license. Neither of the business plaintiffs is operated by a licensed funeral director.

II.

Plaintiff Craigmiles is an ordained minister who serves the Marble Top Missionary Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He and his partner, plaintiff Tommy Wilson, opened the Craigmiles Wilson Casket Supply Store in Chattanooga in March 1999. They invested approximately $30,000 in the business and were open approximately four months during which the store sold steel caskets priced between $495 and $985. In July 1999, Arthur J. Giles, Executive Director of the Tennessee Funeral Board and Burial Services, ordered Craigmiles cease and desist "all sales of caskets and any other funeral merchandise" until he had a license issued by the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. Craigmiles and Wilson have ceased operating their store.

Plaintiff Angela Brent went into business with her father, Jerry Harwood, opening "The Casket Store" in Knoxville, Tennessee, on May 3, 1999. Their purpose was to sell caskets, urns (for cremated remains), and related items such as monuments, grave markers, roadside crosses, stationery, rosaries, guest books, pet urns and caskets, and pet markers. Mr. Giles sent these plaintiffs a "cease and desist" letter on May 10, 1999. Since that time, Mrs. Brent and her father have been prevented by state law from selling caskets and urns from their Knoxville store. They have continued to operate their store, selling the other items, though the store operates at a loss. They paid $42,500 to a Canadian company for a casket franchise.

III.

The FDEA and its implementing regulations, Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. chs. 0660-1 - 0660-10, regulate the funeral and embalming industry in Tennessee. The Act establishes a seven-member board, the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers ("Funeral Board") which is charged with administering the Act. The Funeral Board is comprised of six licensed funeral directors and one individual from outside the funeral industry. TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-201.

To become a licensed funeral director in Tennessee, persons have two options. They can complete a course of study at a school for funeral directors approved by the Funeral Board, and undergo a one-year apprenticeship; or, they can do a two-year apprenticeship ("practical training and experience") and assist in at least 25 funerals. TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-305(a)(6). The only Tennessee school approved by the Funeral Board is Gupton College, which is located in Nashville. The courses of study offered at Gupton College last either 12 or 16 months. The 16-month course, which is the most popular, costs between $10,000 and $12,000 in tuition and other expenses. License applicants who attend Gupton College must embalm dead bodies. In addition, to obtain a license, an applicant must pass an examination on subjects determined by the Funeral Board. If the Funeral Board finds:

Upon examination that the applicant has a reasonable knowledge of sanitation and disinfection of premises, clothing, bedding, and other articles subject to contagion and infection, and has a reasonable knowledge of the sanitation and disinfection of bodies of deceased persons where death was caused by infectious diseases or communicable diseases, and has all the requirements and qualifications herein stated, and has complied with all the rules and regulations of the board applying to funeral directors, the board shall, upon receipt of a fee as set by the board, issue to the applicant a license to practice funeral directing.

Page 661

TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-306(c).1

In 1972, the Tennessee Legislature expanded the definition of "funeral directing" to include the "making of arrangements to provide for funeral services and/or the selling of funeral merchandise, and/or the making of financial arrangements for the rendering of the services, and/or the sale of such merchandise ..." TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-101(3)(A)(ii). The Act does not specifically define "funeral merchandise." However, TENN. CODE ANN. § 62-5-104 indicates that the term includes "receptacles and containers used for burial, entombment, or other final disposition of a dead human body or the remains thereof." Since, under the FDEA, the plaintiffs, by selling caskets and urns to the public, are engaged in "funeral directing," the State requires them to meet all applicable requirements and obtain a state funeral director's license.

IV.

Plaintiffs assert that the FDEA, as applied to them, violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.

Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the portion of the FDEA which requires them to obtain a license to sell caskets and urns violates their rights under the Due Process, Equal Protection, and Privileges and Immunities Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Substantive Due Process

By virtue of the Due Process Clause, the State may not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law..." "The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of the government." County of Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 845, 118 S.Ct. 1708, 140 L.Ed.2d 1043 (1998) (quoting Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 558, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974)). The Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee includes more than just procedural fairness. Harrah Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Martin, 440 U.S. 194, 197, 99 S.Ct. 1062, 59 L.Ed.2d 248 (1979); Kelley v. Johnson, 425 U.S. 238, 244, 96 S.Ct. 1440, 47 L.Ed.2d 708 (1976). The amendment also prohibits the government from imposing impermissible substantive restrictions on individual liberty. Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702, 720-21, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1994); Harrah Indep. Sch. Dist., 440 U.S. at 197, 99 S.Ct. 1062.

Plaintiffs indisputably have a liberty interest in the right to pursue their chosen occupation. Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 291-92, 119 S.Ct. 1292, 143 L.Ed.2d 399 (1999); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399, 43 S.Ct. 625, 67 L.Ed. 1042 (1923); Wilkerson v. Johnson, 699 F.2d 325, 328 (6th Cir.1983). This right is, however, subject to reasonable regulation by the State of Tennessee. Conn, 526 U.S. at 292, 119 S.Ct. 1292; Washington, 521 U.S. at 728, 117 S.Ct. 2258; Dillinger...

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11 practice notes
  • Powers v. Harris, No. 03-6014.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 23, 2004
    ...identical to Oklahoma's, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses); Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658 (E.D.Tenn.2000) (same); Casket Royale, Inc. v. Mississippi, 124 F.Supp.2d 434 (S.D.Miss.2000) (same in relation to Mississippi's casket statu......
  • Shipley v. Orndoff, Civil Action No. 04-1530-JJF.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Delaware
    • June 7, 2007
    ...v. Odom, 356 F.Supp.2d 639, 643-44 (M.D.La.2005); Merrifield v. Lockyer, 388 F.Supp.2d 1051, 1061 (N.D.Cal.2005); Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 665-66 Here, Plaintiffs claim fails because he does not allege he was treated differently based upon his citizenship in another state. Se......
  • Bruner v. Zawacki, Civil Action No. 3:12–57–DCR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • February 3, 2014
    ...substantive restrictions on individual liberty,” including the liberty interest to pursue a chosen occupation. Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 661 (2000), citing Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720–21, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1997); Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 29......
  • Merrifield v. Lockyer, No. C-04-0498 MMC (WWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • August 1, 2005
    ...found that neither caskets themselves nor the sale of caskets implicated "public health and safety" in any way. Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 662 (E.D.Tenn.2000). Thus, requiring the licensing of casket merchants could have no rational relationship to the protection of public heal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Powers v. Harris, No. 03-6014.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 23, 2004
    ...identical to Oklahoma's, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses); Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658 (E.D.Tenn.2000) (same); Casket Royale, Inc. v. Mississippi, 124 F.Supp.2d 434 (S.D.Miss.2000) (same in relation to Mississippi's casket statu......
  • Shipley v. Orndoff, Civil Action No. 04-1530-JJF.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Delaware
    • June 7, 2007
    ...v. Odom, 356 F.Supp.2d 639, 643-44 (M.D.La.2005); Merrifield v. Lockyer, 388 F.Supp.2d 1051, 1061 (N.D.Cal.2005); Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 665-66 Here, Plaintiffs claim fails because he does not allege he was treated differently based upon his citizenship in another state. Se......
  • Bruner v. Zawacki, Civil Action No. 3:12–57–DCR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • February 3, 2014
    ...substantive restrictions on individual liberty,” including the liberty interest to pursue a chosen occupation. Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 661 (2000), citing Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720–21, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 138 L.Ed.2d 772 (1997); Conn v. Gabbert, 526 U.S. 286, 29......
  • Merrifield v. Lockyer, No. C-04-0498 MMC (WWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • August 1, 2005
    ...found that neither caskets themselves nor the sale of caskets implicated "public health and safety" in any way. Craigmiles v. Giles, 110 F.Supp.2d 658, 662 (E.D.Tenn.2000). Thus, requiring the licensing of casket merchants could have no rational relationship to the protection of public heal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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