A federal appeals court ruling in favor of Benedictine monks who had been blocked from selling their handmade caskets by Louisiana’s state funeral board “is a victory for the monks as well as for free enterprise and entrepreneurs” in the state, their lawyer said.
“And it puts a nail in the coffin of the casket cartel,” said Darpana Sheth, the attorney with the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which represented the monks pro bono in the case.
The law required any business selling caskets in Louisiana to be a licensed funeral home that employs a funeral director and has a casket showroom. The monks twice had gone to the Louisiana Legislature to amend the law, but those bills never got out of committee, so they filed a lawsuit in 2010.
The Benedictines of St. Joseph Abbey have made the caskets for decades to bury their brother monks, but public interest in the caskets began in the early 1990s and has grown over the years.
In 2007, the Benedictines launched St. Joseph Abbey Woodworks, headed by Deacon Mark Coudrain, a woodworker, to begin making caskets to sell to the public.