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Ryder faces July 17 hearing

NORTHAMPTON — State regulators have scheduled a July 17 hearing in Boston to decide the fate of William W. Ryder’s funeral director and funeral home licenses, which the state Division of Professional Licensure suspended last month.

Ryder, 53, operated the Ryder Funeral Home on Lamb Street in South Hadley until May 28 when authorities descended on the funeral home to investigate alleged health code violations.

The Division of Professional Licensure immediately suspended his licenses after discovering bodies not properly embalmed and stored, according to the agency, which regulates 50 trades and professions in the commonwealth.

Seven of eight bodies were allegedly discovered in states of decomposition and Ryder is facing other alleged violations, including failure to maintain proper paperwork for those bodies and engaging in fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.

The hearing scheduled for July 17 is a full adjudicatory hearing and must be held within 60 days of the May 28 suspension order. At that hearing, the allegations will be reviewed and a final decision and order will be issued, according to John High, a DPL spokesman.

“Depending on the outcome of the decision, the board will impose sanctions on the license, if appropriate,” High told the Gazette.

Ryder had earlier waived his right to a June 6 hearing to determine whether the May 28 license suspensions should remain in effect or be lifted.

His attorney, Paul Boudreau of South Hadley, did not return a phone call Friday afternoon. Ryder had been entitled to that hearing within 10 days of the May 28 license suspensions, according to the law.

Lawsuits filed

In a related development, two families filed a lawsuit against Ryder in Hampshire Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages and asking for a judge to prohibit Ryder from selling the business and liquidating his assets. The families say they had loved ones whose bodies were among those languishing and improperly handled in the funeral home. The suit alleges 16 counts including intentional, reckless and negligent interferences with a dead body, breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

It also seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent Ryder from selling the business or otherwise liquidating the assets. A hearing had been scheduled for Friday afternoon, but it was canceled because no judge was available for the proceeding.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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