High Price Of Death

John Lithgow on The Early Show.
John Lithgow on The Early Show.

A consumer group is suing the nation's three biggest funeral home chains and a leading maker of caskets accusing them of conspiring to fix casket prices, a charge the companies deny. CBS News Correspondent Trish Regan has more on the casket controversy.

When Millie Ruiz's mother died unexpectedly, she called Derek Wallace of the Wallace-Hart funeral home in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"My mom passed away on a Thursday, and I called him that day," says Ruiz.

They took her mother's body and agreed to handle the funeral. But, as Regan reports, when she bought a casket at a discount store, she was shocked by what the funeral director told her.

"I said, 'Are you telling me you won't do the funeral?'" says Ruiz. "And he said, 'Yes, that's what I'm telling you.'"

Then, she says, he refused to release her mother's body until she paid him $1,710.

"One of the things that went through my mind is that this man is really angry at me, and he has my mother," says Ruiz.

We tried to talk to Wallace at the funeral home, and later by phone. He has not responded to CBS' efforts. He has been disciplined for this incident.