Reviews of the Book
Karen J. Leonard
Research Assistant for
The American Way of Death
Jessica Mitford, author
Congratulations! You've got a winner here! ...Mr. Roberts, well
done indeed. Jessica Mitford would have loved to have met you.
I have read all the other "insider exposes" (it's my job), and nothing comes close to
this forthright, plain and simple disclosure. No funeral director/cemeterian I've
interviewed (and alas, I've had to talk to too many) who promised to "tell me the real
dirt" ever really dug deeper than a spade full, compared to Darryl. Darryl has dug the
grave, and exposed the bones.
Oh how I wish I could see the faces of..., and other
industry talking heads when they read this! Read 'em and weep, boys! The truth is, no
matter how much consumer advocates like myself and Henry (Wasielewski) know, no matter
how much we tell, we are on the sidelines. Until someone from the fold sheds
the sheep's clothing and stands up and howls, the impact will never reach the herd,
and the continual fleecing will continue without much interruption. No "disgruntled
employee" excuses. Darryl's book is not a grudge payback. He is the genuine article, a
leader of the pack.
Every funeral director in the country is going to read this. Every funeral/memorial
society should advertise it.
"Mr. Roberts' book represents a comprehensive and courageous effort to pull the
curtains from the dark side of the funeral industry, letting the light shine
clearly on consumers' options. His lucid, flowing, and often humorous style
takes the mystery out of the whole funeral process...I hope the ethical members
of the industry will appreciate this clearing of the air and view it as an
opportunity for growth and improved service. They should feel
secure in the knowledge that they will never lack customers."
Ruth C. Zemek,
Director of Trade Practice
The Better Business Bureau
"...the book is worth reading from cover to cover for a more complete picture of
what happens at the hands of funeral professionals at the time of death. I
have had first-hand experience with the vulnerability at the time of death of
friends and family of the deceased and their willingness to heed advice of those
professionals at this time. After reading this book, I personally changed
my mind about the "final arrangements" I would request for myself. I would
say that this fact makes for quite an endorsement.
Roman Catholic Religious Sister of Mercy
Burlingame CA Regional Community of
The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Page Up Page Down Return to Home Page
Profits of Death on National Television
Darryl J. Roberts, the whistle-blowing author of Profits of Death, was featured
on the CBS television program 60 Minutes on Sunday, February 1. CBS
correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewed Roberts about the rapid consolidation of
the funeral industry by a few major conglomerates. The show echoed Roberts'
concern that just three conglomerates now handle nearly one-fourth of all U.S.
funerals. In the process, they are drastically raising the costs (in one instance
cited in the show, by more than 50% in just the past three years).
In Profits of Death, Roberts -
a 30-year veteran of the death care industry - exposes many of the tactics used by
funeral homes and cemeteries to mislead consumers into spending more than they need to
when making final arrangements. The book also contains several tips on minimizing the cost
of funerals and burials.
His book was also reviewed in Phoenix Magazine (February 1998) and has been
quoted in dozens of other major publications including Kiplinger's Magazine (May
and July 1997) and Money Magazine (September 1997).
Arizona Author and Publisher Sued Over 60 Minutes Broadcast
The lawsuit involving Darryl J.
Roberts, a resident of Scottsdale and the author of the consumer-oriented book
PROFITS OF DEATH: An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries, and the book's
publisher, Five Star Publications, Incorporated, based in Chandler, is expected
to be amended by the plaintiffs to include comments made recently by Roberts on
the CBS television show 60 Minutes.
Service Corporation International (SCI), one of the largest funeral home/cemetery
conglomerates in the world, and the firm's chief executive officer, Robert L.
Waltrip, have filed a motion to amend their original lawsuit to include allegedly
libelous statements made by Roberts on the show's segment titled "The High Costs
of Dying" which was broadcast February 1. Among the statements challenged are the
comment that "conglomerates come into town (and) raise prices fairly quickly,"
and an alleged implication that SCI businesses charge $800 for opening and
closing a grave when their costs are only $50. SCI and Waltrip accuse Roberts and
Five Star Publications of falsely claiming that SCI engages in deceptive trade
practices, price gouging, and other unfair practices.
Charles L. Babcock and John K. Edwards, with the law firm of Jackson Walker,
L.L.P., of Houston, represent Roberts and Five Star Publications, Incorporated.
Edwards indicated that the motion to amend the original lawsuit will probably be
granted. "Federal courts routinely grant leave to amend early in litigation,"
Edwards said. "If the court grants the motion, we will seek additional discovery
to explore the grounds for the new allegations." He noted that his clients are
still waiting for the court to rule on their motion for summary judgment which
was filed in January regarding the original lawsuit. "We are optimistic of a
favorable outcome," Edwards said. "In our opinion, the original defamation claim
borders on the frivolous. This latest development does little to change that
Regarding this newest development, Edwards added,
"Interestingly, out of all the statements that were made by various people during the
60 Minutes segment, the plaintiffs choose to focus on two or three comments made by
one individual, who just happens to be the same person they are already suing over a
single quotation. If the plaintiffs think that Roberts and his publisher are little folks
who can't fight back, they are wrong. We intend to vigorously defend the important
First Amendment rights at stake in this lawsuit."
In the original lawsuit, SCI and Waltrip alleged that the
author and publisher defamed them claiming they falsely accused Waltrip of stating that it
was his goal to turn SCI into "the True Value Hardware of the funeral-service
industry." Roberts replied, "This quote was taken directly from an article that
appeared in Business Week in its August 25, 1986 issue." The article, which
appeared in the magazine's "The Corporation" section, was entitled Bob
Waltrip is Making Big Noises in a Quiet Industry - His Service Corp. Expects to
Acquire 50 Mortuaries and Cemeteries Just this Year.
In Profits of Death, Roberts - a 30-year
veteran of the death care industries - exposes many of the tactics used by funeral
homes and cemeteries to mislead consumers into spending more than they need to when making
final arrangements. The book also contains several ways in which to control the cost of
funerals and burials.