Funeral home barred from preneed contracts
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster obtained a judgment on Monday against a Jefferson City funeral home and its director prohibiting them from entering into certain funeral contracts.
Additionally, the judgment calls for Buescher Memorial Home Inc., Barbara J. Buescher and Barbara Buescher, doing business as Buescher Memorial Home, to pay $29,500 in costs and penalties. The defendants are also barred from entering into any preened funeral contracts.
The judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by Koster alleging that the defendants falsely promised consumers that their preened funeral contract money would be placed in a trust account or joint account. The defendants did not place preneed funeral contract funds in a trust account or joint account, which is required by the Missouri Preneed Funeral Contract Act. This conduct was an unfair practice under the Merchandising Practices Act.
The defendants have paid $283,378.66 in restitution to 60 consumers who purchased preened contracts since Koster's office filed its lawsuit in November 2009. The defendants must transfer the five remaining preened contracts to a licensed preneed seller or prover or to the purchaser's next of kin or estate under terms of the judgment.
"Missouri law requires that the money paid for a preened contract be put into a trust account or joint account to ensure that it is available when it is needed, and we will continue to enforce this requirement whenever necessary," Koster said. "I am glad that my office has finally been able to resolve this matter and ensure that all consumers who purchased these contracts will be able to benefit from them."
The defendants are required to pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the state and $24,500 to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund.