The Burial sees a funeral home owner join a flashy and charismatic lawyer to sue a greedy and corrupt corporation and save his family business. The film is currently streaming on Prime Video.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Jeremiah O’Keefe owns several funeral homes and also works as a burial insurance broker in southern Mississippi.
Landing in financial trouble spells some more trouble for Jerry and he’s convinced by his attorney and best friend Mike to sell some of his funeral homes.
A handshake deal is settled between Jerry and the chairman of Loewen Group, according to which the latter would buy three funeral homes and never sell burial insurance in southern Mississippi.
Loewen agrees to the deal at first but months pass without the deal moving forward even a bit.
Hal, a friend of Jerry’s son and a young lawyer claims that Loewen is waiting for the state insurance commission to leave Jerry with no job, and so he’d take all his funeral homes for scraps.
Jerry sues Loewen and Hal suggests Willie Gary to represent them. He’s a flashy, charismatic lawyer who’s never lost a case, but he’s also a personal injury lawyer and Contract law is out of his area of expertise.
Hal manages to convince him to take the case, though, and after a tussle of power between Gary and Mike, their case is off to a slow start. It’s made worse when Gary makes a premature move.
Their case is only made worse when Mike is brought to the cross-questioning, and he withdraws from the lead counsel position himself. Jerry, who has poured his all into this case, decides to pull out and drop it.
However, Hal’s damning discovery helps them expose Loewen Group’s predatory, exploitative, and racist business practices to the jury, and Gary delivers a rousing display of cross-questioning and wins the case, as The Burial ends.
The Burial ending explained in detail:
Why does Jerry want to sell his funeral homes?
Jerry is seventy-five years old and has thirteen kids. He inherited the family business of funeral homes from his father. All he wants is for this legacy to be picked on by his children, who have to take over the business.
However, for that to happen, there must be a business in the first place, and Jerry’s financial troubles have made it very difficult for him to keep the business afloat and strong.
After he gets involved in some shady savings and loans business deal with a person who is currently in jail, Jerry fails to keep the required minimum funds in the accounts, because he used the clients’ money for the deal that went awry.
This leads to his license getting suspended by the state insurance commission and leaves him with no other choice but to sell part of his business to Mr. Loewen, a suggestion made by his attorney and longtime friend Mike.
Does Jerry win the case?
Jerry wins the lawsuit at the end of The Burial, with the help of two chief characters — Willie Gary and Hal. Gary brings his panache to the courtroom and Hal does diligent hard work to find what they can go after Loewen with.
Hal finds that the Loewen Group made a proposal to the top leadership of the National Baptist Convention.
This proposal entailed convincing the Black church to endorse Loewen Group as their death care provider of choice, in exchange for some of its members getting turned into salesmen.
This exchange would involve teaching these salesmen how to sell graves, crypts, headstones, and burial insurance straight to their own people. In short, the Loewen Group was having poor black people sell their funeral products to other black people for a commission.
This led to a lot of misery and exploitation, instead of the great things they promised.
This was the exploitation of the marginalized and prejudiced at their most vulnerable moments. Gary and the team work on it and expose Loewen and his company’s predatory business model.
The jury is convinced and at last, O’Keefe wins the lawsuit. The court awards $100 million in compensatory damages to be paid to O’Keefe, by Loewen Group, LLC. Furthermore, it also awards a verdict of $400 million in punitive damages to O’Keefe.
Before The Burial rolls the credits, it is revealed that the Loewen Group later agrees to settle for $175 million, and Ray Loewen is forced to resign as President and CEO of his own company, before the group files for bankruptcy less than a year later.
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