LEWISTON, Maine — A Florida woman is suing a Lewiston crematory for breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress after her brother's body was discovered with 11 others left for weeks inside an unrefrigerated basement.
Arlene Goguen claims Affordable Cremation Solutions and owner Kenneth Kincer inflicted "unbearable mental and emotional suffering and other injuries" through actions her attorney described as "outrageous."
"It's a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through to have to bury their son, and then the circumstances of what happened with Affordable Cremation Solutions just made that horrible situation so much worse and completely traumatic for my client," Portland attorney Benjamin Donahue told NEWS CENTER Maine.
According to a complaint filed in Androscoggin Superior Court, Goguen contacted Kincer and Affordable Cremation Solutions on May 17, 2021, two days after her son, Philip Goguen, died from a fall outside a Lewiston bus station. Kincer agreed to pick up Philip Goguen's body at Central Maine Medical Center and cremate it, according to documents and notified her on May 21 that the body was ready.
At the time, unbeknownst to Goguen, the Maine Board of Funeral Services had filed a complaint against Kincer and Affordable Cremation on April 12 after families claimed in April that they couldn't reach Kincer, that one body had been sent to the wrong funeral home, and that one family had to involve police to retrieve remains.
On May 31, Kincer told Goguen there would be a slight delay having her son's remains ready, and more than two weeks later, she still hadn't heard from him, according to the complaint.
She learned about the complaints against him on June 16 when another of her children showed her news reports.
According to the complaint, "[t]he Medical Examiner's office confirmed her fears -- that Philip's body was one of those left unrefrigerated during a record-setting heat wave and that, after temporarily closing ACS and suspending Kincer's license, the ME's office took her son's remains to its Augusta office.
On July 13, Kincer and Affordable Cremation entered into a consent agreement with the state in which his license was indefinitely suspended.
According to a report from the Maine Board of Funeral Services, on June 8, an investigator found the Affordable Cremation office on Main Street in Lewiston locked and no one answered the phone.
After being let into the building by a part-time licensed funeral attendant Kincer had left in charge, the investigator found 12 bodies in an unrefrigerated storage room, stacked in and on boxes from which "a reddish liquid appeared to have dripped" into a drain.
Some of the bodies had been in the room for six weeks, according to the report.
Two days later, the investigator found approximately 35 "cremains on the floor, a closet shelf, and a desk.
"Since mid-June, Arlene has been left in shock, without answers, and the image of her son's decomposing body stuck in her head," the complaint states.
"In treating human remains like last week's garbage and lying to Arlene about the status of her son's remains, Kincer acted outrageously," Donahue wrote in the complaint. "He breached countless regulatory and ethical standards designed to protect the deceased and those responsible for their remains. He failed to show respect for the dead in a way that should not be tolerated in any community -- civilized or uncivilized."
The Maine Board of Funeral Services had not yet scheduled a hearing on three cases involving Kincer and Affordable Cremation, according to Kristin M. Racine of the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
No criminal charges have been filed, Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson said Thursday.