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).
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 11:05 )
Note: the story below gives an overview. Readers who want details on the laws discussed should see Funeral Consumers Alliance's opposition letter sent to Kentucky legislators, and our analysis of the bill .
Frankfort, Kentucky, January, 2006 --- Faced with stiff competition from innovative, lower-cost funeral services that offer low prices by economizing on overhead, entrenched "traditional" Kentucky funeral homes are trying to abuse the law to protect their pocketbooks. House Bill 232, which looks to have been written by the state funeral directors' Board (made up of four funeral directors and one "public" representative, whose wife works part-time at a funeral home!) and the the Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky, would:
- Take away Kentucky citizens' rights to care for their own dead by giving the state funeral board control over every aspect of funerals, even private family or religious services
- Take away the right of religious congregations to care for their members in a traditional way without the interference of the commercial funeral industry
- Outlaw innovative, lower-cost funeral establishments that keep prices moderate by economizing on overhead
- Give established, high-overhead funeral homes a virtual monopoly on the funeral business
- Insulate funeral homes from competition, thereby keeping prices high and consumers captive
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 16:28 )
Wisconsin Funeral Trade Groups Back Bill to Restrict Low-cost Competition
UPDATE 10/18/05 — Rep. Phil Montgomery's office announced last week that AB 485 was "dead," but Rep. Karl Van Roy, a co-sponsor and the chairman of the small business committee, brought the bill to a vote in amended form on October 17, 2005. The amended bill took out two of the most objectionable provisions — the ban on "strip-mall" funeral homes and the requirement to provide seating for 50 at all funeral homes — but still prohibits medical institutions, churches, synagogues, or "creed"- based groups from operating a funeral home. It will be interesting to see if this stands constitutional muster.
- protection - n. supervision or support of one that is smaller or weaker
- protectionism - n. . . . government economic protection for domestic producers through restrictions on foreign competitors
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:31 )
The Missouri Attorney General has filed charges against seven monument companies and funeral homes, alleging the businesses took $800,000 from 500 citizens for goods and services never delivered. Just another reason to think twice about paying for your funeral before you're dead!
From the Kansas City Star, August 19, 2005 Missouri Headstone, Funeral Providers Sued
, The Kansas City Star
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon has taken civil and criminal actions against seven merchants who sold cemetery headstones or pre-need funeral plans to consumers.
The charges, filed in circuit courts across the state, allege that about 500 Missourians paid more than $800,000 for services they didn’t get or that were less than promised.
Nixon filed four cases against monument companies, including one in Clay County, for headstones that weren’t delivered.
Nixon filed 10 felony counts of unlawful merchandising practices against Larry Keith Lawhon, who operates LL Monument Co. in Smithville. The charges in Clay County Circuit Court allege Lawhon’s business did not deliver headstones or provide refunds to consumers who paid thousands of dollars.
Neither Lawhon nor an official for his business were available for comment today. Nixon also filed civil charges against Heartland Monument Co. in Springfield and Jeffrey W. Thomure, of Manchester, who operates Standard Monument Co.
Nixon is seeking a civil injunction against Mike Graham and Associates, which operates Memorial Park Cemetery and Garden of Memories in Sikeston, Forest Hill Memorial Gardens in Morley, and Ozark Memorial Cemetery in Rolla. Nixon wants the company to refund $260,000 to more than 100 consumers.
Nixon filed three cases against pre-need funeral-plan companies — a $1.6 billion industry in Missouri.
“Consumers purchase pre-need funeral plans to have the assurance that these arrangements are paid for and taken care of ahead of time,” Nixon said.
He said in many cases payments were not put in required trust accounts, “but instead were diverted for other uses, leaving shortfalls to pay for the funerals when they are needed.”
Nixon criminally charged Jane Spencer Turner, who operates Spencer Funeral Homes in Salem and Bunker, and Donald E. Holt who operates Holt Funeral Home in Vandalia.
He filed a civil lawsuit against Eddie Swarnes of Swarnes Funeral Home in St. Louis.
To reach Paul Wenske, consumer affairs writer, call (816) 234-4454 or send e-mail to
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Summer, 2005 --- The Spring, 2005 issue of the FCA Newsletter carried an article (see article below this one) about five bills backed by the Tennesee State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, and the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association. The bills purported to better regulate funeral homes and crematories, but in reality, they would have done little to protect the consumer and a lot to protect the mortuary business. The worst of these, Senate Bill 102, would have raised the requirements for running a funeral home so much that smaller operators with lower prices and less capital would have been put out of business.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 December 2007 16:06 )
Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 August 2008 21:42 )
May 2, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
To download a .pdf file of the complaint, click here.
Funeral Consumers Alliance Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Funeral Conglomerates and Largest Casketmaker for Antitrust Violations
South Burlington, VT. - Funeral Consumers Alliance, Inc. (FCA), on behalf of its roughly 400,000 members and a nationwide class of consumers, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in California seeking to stop the country's three largest funeral homes chains and the nation's largest casketmaker from shutting out competition and fixing casket prices at artificially high levels. The suit has been filed against funeral conglomerates Service Corporation International, Alderwoods Group, Inc., Stewart Enterprises, Inc., and Batesville Casket Company. The suit seeks to prevent the defendants from boycotting independent casket discounters (ICDs), and from raising casket prices through price-fixing agreements.
Joining FCA in the suit are several individual consumer plaintiffs, who seek damages on behalf of all consumers who purchased Batesville caskets from the funeral home defendants.
"For years, funeral homes have conspired to artificially inflate casket prices," said Joshua Slocum, executive director of FCA. "We expect this lawsuit will put an end to these conspiracies, that it will bring free and fair competition to the casket market, and that consumers will be compensated for the damage this behavior has wrought."
FCA and the consumer plaintiffs allege the defendants and their co-conspirators have engaged in a group boycott to prevent ICDs from selling Batesville caskets and certain other brands. They also allege that as part of the boycott, the defendants have mounted a campaign of disparagement against ICDs and the caskets they sell. FCA believes this campaign has helped steer customers away from purchasing caskets from ICDs, and toward the artificially expensive Batesville brand of caskets the defendants sell. The plaintiffs further allege that the defendant funeral homes engaged in various forms of price coordination in further violation of state and federal competition laws. FCA alleges the defendants' conduct has suppressed competition in casket sales, which has cost families billions of dollars in overcharges.
If successful, the lawsuit will bring an end to these anti-competitive and anti-consumer practices so grieving families can enjoy substantially lower prices and greater choices for caskets. The lawsuit will also allow the consumer plaintiffs to recover the overcharges that consumers of Batesville caskets have been made to pay.
Constantine Cannon , an antitrust law firm with offices in New York and Washington, DC., is representing FCA and the consumer plaintiffs. The firm has extensive experience in antitrust litigation.
Funeral Consumers Alliance
FCA is the nation's oldest and largest funeral consumer education and advocacy organization. FCA comprises more than 100 affiliated consumer groups (often known as memorial societies) that provide families with information on funeral services and products. FCA groups have approximately 400,000 individual consumer members.
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