ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The obituary page can be the most popular read in local newspapers. It’s also where a war is being waged between well-known funeral homes. That has led to a lawsuit, and some nasty mudslinging.
Mark Shalz is a VP of Operations for the Houston-based company, The Signature Group. Since 2011, the group has bought up a handful of independently owned funeral homes in New Mexico like Daniels, Gabaldon and De Vargas.
“I have hard working employees within the New Mexico area,” Shalz said.
He says one of their competitors, Charles Finegan, the owner of Riverside Funeral Homes, hasn’t played friendly lately.
“Our profession lives by this everyday and our good competitors live by this everyday,” Shalz said. “Mr. Finegan has shown a complete lack of respect.”
So much so, Shalz says Finegan has placed ads in local newspapers slamming the group and its funeral homes, calling them “over-priced” and “corporate owned.”
“The choice our families are making speak for themselves, we’re having more and more families choose us on a regular basis,” Shalz said.
“F*** you f*** everything if you think you are a rookie you’re a corporate a****** and you can kiss my a**…” – text message sent May 2016
He says Finegan has even taken jabs at different minority groups, the LGBT community and the Catholic Church on his Facebook page.
The lawsuit claims he even sent the company’s CEO rude text messages laced with profanity, including some references to the CEO’s wife.
Now, the group filed a lawsuit for damaging its reputation.
“We wanted to begin educating our consumers or the public here in Albuquerque to really what Mr. Finegan has been saying,” Shalz said.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Finegan for comment, but did not hear back.