Coroner's grievance delayed

Carson City's chief coroner will have to wait to settle a grievance against the Sheriff's Department.

Scheduling conflicts have made it necessary to move the hearing from the city's target of early August to mid-September, said Carson City Personnel Manager Judie Fisher. She said it is not uncommon to have delays in the grievance process, especially during the vacation season.

Coroner Eric Cantlin is fighting a 15-day suspension handed down by the Sheriff's Department amid allegations that Cantlin used the office to send business to his wife's employer, FitzHenry's Funeral Home.

Fisher said the scheduling change was made without objection from attorneys representing Cantlin and the city.

"We are supposed to meet within a certain time frame, but we are not real sticklers for the 15-day rule," Fisher said. An exact date has not been set.

Cantlin's duties have been limited to desk work since his return at the beginning of the month, he said. In the meantime, former contractor Ruth Baseler has taken on full-time coroner duties in the office.

Because the Cantlin suspension is being treated as a personnel matter, the Sheriff's Department has declined public comment. But in papers filed with the personnel office, Sheriff Rod Banister wrote that Cantlin's alleged ethics violation was "a serious breech of the conduct of coroner's office."

The reprimand against Cantlin relates to the specific case of an elderly woman's death in January. Because Walton's Funeral Home and FitzHenry's are the only two competing facilities in Carson City, they are on a monthly rotation to receive bodies.

In the case of the January death, Cantlin said the woman had a card in her possession that requested her body be taken to FitzHenry's. Walton's cried foul, saying it was in the rotation to rightfully accept the body.

The family of the woman reportedly took the business to Walton's when they realized arrangements for payment had not been made at FitzHenry's.

Eric Cantlin's wife, Susan, had worked for Walton's in the past. Then as now there have been concerns about a possible conflict of interest. FitzHenry's general manager Jim Smolenski said the sheriff's department is attempting to "dictate where Susan can work" through the action against her husband.

Fisher said a grievance board made up of four city employees, two union members and two department heads will decide whether to uphold the Sheriff's Department's suspension.

If the decision is deadlocked, the case will go to arbitration. The department has the burden of proof.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment