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FCA recognizes that the dissemination of individual experiences, the reporting of public information, and linking to other sites can help further our mission of educating the public on their funeral rights and options. However, FCA's limited resources and the nature of the Internet make it impossible to verify the content of personal experiences that are supplied by others or to verify the content of linked sites. FCA accepts no responsibility for these. Comments on the contents of personal reports and linked websites should be directed to the author(s).



Why the Law Matters - What Every Funeral Consumer Needs to Know

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1/21/2009 - Holly Stevens, a co-founder of the newest FCA chapter, The Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont in North Carolina, has assembled an easy to read guide to funeral law for consumers in her state. Most people aren't even aware there is such a beast as "funeral law." If they are, they usually think, "I don't need to worry about that." Wrong. Grieving families who don't know their legal rights are vulnerable to sales pressure, manipulation, and overspending when it comes time to plan a funeral. Stevens knows this well, and has done an excellent job putting arcane legalese into plain language anyone can understand.

Did you know that in North Carolina:

1. Families can act as their own funeral directors - they don't have to hire a funeral home and they can complete all the paperwork themselves?

2. That there's no state fund to pay for funerals for those who die poor?

3. That it's almost impossible to get a refund after 30 days (even if you move or change your mind) when you buy graves and markers ahead of time?

Probably not, but these are things every savvy funeral consumer should know. Stevens has kindly given us permission to excerpt the introduction and Q & A from her book, Care of the Dead: North Carolina Statutes. This is a must-read for any North Carolina citizen. It's also a great model for other Funeral Consumers Alliance affiliates to adopt. If you're on the board of an FCA group and you can't answer these questions about your own state's laws, now's the time to assemble a helpful guide for your members. We're sure Holly Stevens would be pleased if you're inspired by her work. Click READ MORE for the excerpt. . .

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2009 23:27 ) Read more...
 

Detroit Paper Covers Undertaker Suit Against Consumer Advocates

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1/21/2009 - FCA announced in September that prominent funeral director and author Thomas Lynch sued us in federal court, claiming we libeled and defamed him. The suit also names the Funeral Ethics Organization, its Executive Director Lisa Carlson, and the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Idaho, our volunteer-run chapter in that state. Detroit's arts and weekly, the Detroit Metro Times, put the story on their cover this week. It's well worth the read.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 February 2009 21:42 ) Read more...
 

Georgia County Bans Green Burial - FCA Responds

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UPDATE 1/16/2009 - Billy Campbell, founder of the nation's first green cemetery, wrote an editorial in the Macon Telegraph inviting Bibb County Commissioners to tour his burial ground. Let's see if he gets a better response than we did.


For the first time, an American county has banned green burial. Bibb County, Georgia, enacted an ordinance November 4, 2008, essentially making it impossible for environmentally friendly cemeteries to open. Astonishingly, residents and Commissioners claimed they were protecting the environment by banning the most environmentally benign form of burial. Misinformation stoked fears among citizens about decomposing bodies leaking into the groundwater. Never mind that naturally decaying bodies don't harm aquifers, never mind the environmental impact (and out-of-pocket cost) of burying corpses full of formaldehyde and encased in steel and concrete. The Commission went on a legislative frenzy with the perverse consequence of enshrining the most expensive and resource-intense burials as the only kind allowed in Bibb County. Click "Read More" below. . .
Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 February 2009 21:42 ) Read more...
 

FTC: Crematories Have to Follow the Funeral Rule

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October 6, 2008 - The Federal Trade Commission has  issued an advisory opinion that crematories that do business directly with the public have to abide by the Funeral Rule, just like funeral homes do. The Funeral Rule gives consumers important rights when shopping for after-death services, such as the right to pick and choose only what they want to buy, and the right to clear, accurate price information in writing before finalizing arrangements.

The ruling came in response to a request from the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service. The NCBFS had been advising independent crematories that they did not have to comply with the Funeral Rule. FCA volunteers at the FCA of the Piedmont in Greensboro discovered this after finding serious violations of consumer protection rules on the price lists provided by some crematories. If you live in the Greensboro, NC area, be sure to check out the funeral price survey just put out by your local FCA chapter (and consider donating to their nonprofit, volunteer work!).


Bottomline for funeral consumers: You have the right to a printed, itemized price list from a crematory, even if it doesn't offer the full services of a funeral home. Be sure to bone up on your rights under the Funeral Rule, whether you do business with a full-service mortuary or a cremation-only firm.

 

CELEBRITY UNDERTAKER ASKS COURT TO MUZZLE FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE

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UPDATE August 4, 2009 -

COURT TOSSES FUNERAL DIRECTOR LAWSUIT; UPHOLDS FREE SPEECH
FOR CONSUMER ADVOCATES


The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan threw out prominent funeral director Thomas Lynch’s libel and defamation suit against Funeral Consumers Alliance and two other defendants. On July 31, Judge Robert H. Cleland granted summary judgment for the defendants, ruling that Lynch had no case for libel or defamation.

“We’re delighted the court has upheld FCA’s right to free speech,” said Joshua Slocum, Executive Director. “The Constitution protects Americans’ right to engage in vigorous public debate, and that includes criticizing the words and deeds of public figures like Mr. Lynch. Simply because the target of that criticism does not enjoy it does not make such critique illegal. FCA will continue commenting on matters of importance to funeral consumers, and that commentary may take the form of critiquing the writing or statements of prominent funeral directors. We expect this ruling will discourage any disgruntled funeral industry figures from attempting in the future to intimidate and silence consumer organizations through legal bullying.”

Click READ MORE for the rest of the story. . .

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 November 2009 22:53 ) Read more...
 


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