Lawsuit filed against unlicensed W.Va. funeral home‏

Nick Rees Feb. 2, 2010, 1:11pm

Darrell McGraw (D)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has filed a lawsuit against an unlicensed funeral home that allegedly misappropriated funds.

Mr. Blue Inc., doing business as Foglesong Tucker Funeral Home, and Jerry Tucker, its president, are alleged to have misappropriated the funds of at least two consumers who paid for funeral goods and services in advance.

The funeral home currently holds at least $250,000 in preneed funeral contract funds, but is not licensed to perform the contracts, withdraw the funds or accept prepayments from consumers.

To accept advance payments from consumers, a funeral home must first obtain a special certificate of authority to sell preneed funeral contracts. All contracts and advance payments are required to then be disclosed to the attorney general's Preneed Funeral Services Division, which allows proper monitoring of consumers' funds.

Foglesong Tucker is alleged to have ignored the preneed funeral contract requirements by failing to renew its certificate of authority on numerous occasions, leading to a large number of transactions and payments going unreported over the years.

Fogleson Tucker was first investigated by McGraw's office in 2006 following the funeral home's ignoring of licensing guidelines. That investigation revealed that a number of contracts and payments from consumers to the funeral home were not disclosed to McGraw's office.

Foglesong Tucker was then required to sign an agreement paying all outstanding fees to the attorney general's office and promising to obey preneed funeral laws in the future.

In 2009, Fogleson Tucker's license and certificate of authority were again allowed to lapse for months. Another set of contracts and payments that had not been reported were then revealed in a subsequent audit. The company was given a final chance to come into compliance with state law but the deadlines for that lapsed without a resolution.

City National Bank of West Virginia then responded to inquiries by McGraw for information that revealed funds belonging to at least two consumers were never deposited in the bank.

The lawsuit seeks to ban Foglesong Tucker from accepting prepayments from consumers for funeral purchases ever again as a result of the funeral home's habitual misconduct. The lawsuit also seeks to seize all preneed contract funds to prevent future mishandling.

Restitution for any consumers harmed by Foglesong Tucker's conduct is also sought in the lawsuit as well as civil penalties, punitive damages and interest on all judgments.

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