DENVER — Metro Denver funeral homes are upset with the Denver coroner’s office after they say a new county contract awarded to one company could create a monopoly.
From car accidents to crime scenes and unexpected and natural deaths, bodies must be transported to the office of the medical examiner before being released to a funeral home for burial.
“He merely takes the body to the coroner’s office and then the family tells the coroner’s officer who they wish it to be taken to,” said George Malesich of Malesich & Shirey Funeral Home.
In Denver County third party company, First Call had the contract for the last eight years.
That contract ended last week and when the county asked for new bids, Service Corporation International, known locally as Olinger Denver Mortuary Services won out, coming in at nearly half the price the city was paying for each transport.
I have a suspicion that there’s more there than meets the eye because of the fact that they are providing the service to the coroner’s office at a much more significant lower rate,” Malesich said.
While it might look good for taxpayers … dozens of metro funeral homes say it’s presents a conflict of interest and creates an opportunity for an unfair business practice
“The family might not have any idea who they want to use and they may be asked if they’d like to use the particular firm in question,” said Karl Rexroat, Manager of the Drinkwine Family Mortuary.
Letter after letter written to the coroner’s office express that conflict.
“They have first contact with the family by being at the residence, the scene of the accident, to where they have information to potentially contact the family,” Rexroat said.
The city of Denver issued a statement saying as part of the contract there would be no solicitation allowed on any scene, and Denver Mortuary Service can’t wear or display any signage on their clothes or transport cars.
Other funeral homes say it’s not enough.
“I think the city and the county should be concerned about potentially creating a monopoly in the industry,” said Rexroat.
The company that owns Denver Mortuary Service told us Friday in a statement they are pleased to provide their expertise and do not use these relationships to solicit business.