Minnesota Embalming Rooms

Verlin Stoll, et al. v. Minnesota Department of Health, Mortuary Science Section, et al.
Putting Useless Government Requirements to Rest

Lisa Martinez

Verlin Stoll in front of his funeral home, Crescent Tide.

Lisa Martinez

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.


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Putting Useless Government Requirements to Rest: Challenging Minnesota’s Requirement That All Funeral Homes Have Embalming Rooms

Video on this case

Client Photo

Latest Release: Minnesota Repeals Useless Funeral-Home Requirement (May 21, 2014)

Launch Release: Putting Useless Government Requirements to Rest: Minnesota Entrepreneur Challenges Requirement That All Funeral Homes Must Have an Embalming Room (January 19, 2012)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Decision October 9, 2013 (PDF)

Complaint January 19,2012 (PDF)
Pre Trial Brief

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 


January 19, 2012

Court Filed:


Ramsey County: Second Judicial District



October 9, 2013

 Current Court: Ramsey County: Second Judicial District


  Next Key Date:

None available

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Victory for Minnesota Entrepreneurs; Court Strikes Down Useless Funeral-Home Law (October 9, 2013)

Graphic: Nonfunctional Embalming Room

Graphic: Nonfunctional Embalming Room 2 
Graphic: Nonfuncational Embalming Room 3 

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Video: IJ's Chip Mellor Discusses Government Mandated Licensing With John Stossel (3 of 3); Stossel (March 26, 2010

Op-Ed: Minnesota’s Embalming Rule is Irrational Star Tribune (January 22, 2012) 
Op-Ed: Can Government Force You To Do Anything it Wants AFF Doublethink Online (June 11, 2012) 
Article: Judge to decide if MN can make funeral homes buy unneeded equipment Watchdog (March 4, 2013)
Article: Dumb Laws: funeral home forced to use embalming equipment they don't use or need Examiner (January 19, 2012) 
Article: A License to Kill- Competition Miami Herald (March 11, 2013) 
Article: Burials Streamlined for Dignity Star Tribune (March 14, 2012) 
Article: Overregulation Takes the “Fun” Out of Funeral Home Management Freedom Works (March 25, 2013) 
Article: MN Funeral Home Challenges Burdensome Rules Requiring Unneeded Equipment Reason (March 4, 2013) 
Article: Institute for Justice Continues Fight Against Occupational Licensure The Objective Standard (March 24, 2013) 
Article: Oh, Baby! IJ’s Minnesota Embalming Rooms Trial Was Filled with Drama & Teamwork Liberty & Law (April 2013) 
Article: Minnesota Entrepreneur Challenges Stupid Law That Wastes His Money Liberty & Law (April 2012) 


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