Minnesota Embalming Rooms
Putting Useless Government Requirements to Rest
Verlin Stoll in front of his funeral home, Crescent Tide.
Verlin Stoll is a 27-year-old entrepreneurial dynamo who owns Crescent Tide funeral home in Saint Paul, Minn. Verlin has built a successful business because he offers low-cost funerals while providing high-quality service. His business is also one of the only funeral homes that benefits low-income families who cannot afford the high prices of the big funeral-home companies.
Verlin wants to expand his business, hire new employees and continue to offer the lowest prices in the Twin Cities, but Minnesota refuses to let Verlin build a second funeral home unless he builds a $30,000 embalming room that he will never use.
Why is Minnesota forcing Verlin to waste $30,000 on a useless embalming room as a condition of expanding his thriving business?
So that the big, full-amenity funeral-home businesses can benefit from a law that drives up prices for consumers and operating expenses for competitors such as Verlin. Verlin’s basic services fee is only $250, which is about 90 percent lower than the $2,500 that the average Twin Cities’ funeral home charges. Verlin’s business model is built on minimizing fixed costs, which is why he does not have a hearse or chapel, and this law—to the advantage of his competitors—stands in the way of him expanding his low-cost, high-quality approach.
The government should not force Minnesotans to do useless things. That is why on January 19, 2012, Verlin and the Institute for Justice challenged the law in state court.
On October 9, 2013, a Ramsey County Court judge struck down Minnesota’s embalming-room requirement as unconstitutional and recognized that Minnesota had violated Verlin’s right to earn an honest living. The Judge ruled that “The embalming-room requirement, which would require Stoll to expend $30,000 or more to build a preparation and embalming room at any funeral establishment where no preparation and embalming is performed, constitutes an irrational exercise of the state’s police power.”
With this ruling, Verlin is free to expand his business to serve a broader community without having to waste money on useless government requirements.