Service Corporation International

From Academic Kids

Service Corporation International or SCI is a corporation based in Houston, Texas which runs one of the largest chains of funeral homes in the world with over 3800 funeral homes, 40000 employees, and revenues of $2.4 billion dollars. It operates in 18 countries in five continents and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

In contrast to many other large corporations, SCI tries to keep an extremely low profile. Typically, a funeral home that is owned by SCI will not have any trace of the corporation, and the corporation does not actively publicize its existence. In many cases, SCI will buy a pre-existing funeral home with a long history and keep the name, the family history, and be otherwise invisible.

This is largely because grieving families would much rather deal with what appears to be a small mom and pop funeral home than a large corporation. This leads to the odd situation that most customers of SCI do not even know that they are dealing with this corporation.

In recent years, SCI has liquidated most of its overseas assets and has brought to the forefront a brand of funeral service called Dignity Memorial.

Scandal

In the late 1990's, SCI was involved in a scandal in which the remains of a number of people were desecrated in a cemetery that the company owned. The cemetery was found to have been "recycling" graves - removing the remains of previous burials and placing other people in the graves.

The scandal took on an extra political dimension - company chairman Robert Waltrip was a friend of President Bush's family. He had made a number of campaign contributions to the Bush family over the years.

The scandal grew even further when Eliza May - a director with the Texas Funeral Service Commission - was fired while investigating SCI. She alleged in a lawsuit that she was fired because she refused to halt the investigation despite pressure from then Governor George W. Bush to halt the investigation into SCI's practices. However other members of the commission indicated that she was fired because others in the office had lost confidence in her, and that she was using her authority in an inappropriate manner.

May's lawyers tried to compel Bush to testify at the trial, but Texas Judge John K. Dietz threw out the subpoena that would've required Bush to give a deposition. Bush opponents claimed that this decision was politically motivated due to him campaigning at the time for the Republican party's nomination for President. Bush supporters claimed that the judge was correct to throw out the subpoena - that the suit was a partisan attempt to damage his chances of receiving the party's nomination for President. May's lawsuit was settled in November of 2001 for $210,000. SCI paid $55,000 and the state paid the balance.

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