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Aiken County coroner sues county over transportation costs

AIKEN (AP) — Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton has sued the county council and county administrator because of a dispute over which company will remove dead bodies from crime scenes.

Local media outlets reported that Carlton wants to continue using Rucker’s Removal Service in Langley, which has handled death cases since the early 1990s.

County council voted in November 2013 to use Palmetto Mortuary Transport in Lexington County because it was cheaper. Palmetto offered the service at $160 per body. Rucker was charging $175 per body.

Carlton says Rucker has more experience in dealing with death scenes in Aiken County and that Carlton has the authority to decide who should act his deputies in dealing with the bodies.

County Administrator Clay Killian would not talk about the lawsuit filed Wednesday. The county has 30 days to respond.

Carlton told the council in January 2014 he would not use Palmetto. The council then froze the $50,000 it had planned to spend on body transportation.

The coroner has been relying on the “professional courtesy” of Rucker to remove bodies without being paid, until the dispute is resolved.

Rucker notified the county earlier this month it would stop providing the service in May because it has not been paid since last April and is owed nearly $41,000.

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