Seven Mississippi-Area Homes To Settle
In another series of cases emerging from a nationwide crackdown on funeral homes that fail to give consumers price list and other required information, the Federal Trade Commission today announced seven enforcement actions against funeral home operators in Mississippi. These cases resulted from a sweep conducted by the FTC and the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, where test shoppers were sent into a number of funeral homes in a given area to determine whether the homes provide consumers with copies of itemized price lists, a key requirement in the FTC's Funeral Rule. The Funeral Rule is designed to ensure that consumers receive price lists and know they can purchase only the goods and services they want or need.
The FTC and state Attorneys General have been conducting these Funeral Rule enforcement sweeps since late 1994. Other sweeps have netted five cases in Delaware; seven cases in Nashville, Tennessee; and five cases in the Tampa, Florida area. More sweeps are expected to be launched soon.
In the cases announced today, the FTC alleged that the seven Mississippi funeral homes failed to give the test shoppers a copy of the required general price list. In some instances, when the homes opted to include prices for caskets and outer burial containers on lists separate from their general price list, the FTC alleged that they failed to provide these supplemental lists to the test shoppers, as required by the Rule. The following companies and named corporate officers have agreed to settle the charges under consent decrees that would require them to comply with the Funeral Rule in the future and to pay civil penalties. The settlements require court approval to become binding. They are with:
- Glenwood Funeral Homes, Inc., of Vicksburg, MS. ($16,500 civil penalty);
- Stricklin-King Funeral Home, Inc., of Yazoo City, MS. ($10,500);
- Gregory Funeral Home, Inc., of Yazoo City, MS. ($1,000);
- W.H. Jefferson Funeral Home, Inc., of Vicksburg, MS. ($1,000);
- Robbins Funeral Home of Vicksburg, MS. ($1,000);
- Williams Funeral Service of Vicksburg, MS ($1,000); and
- Family Memorial Funeral Home of Yazoo City, Inc., of Yazoo City, MS ($1,500).
The FTC's Funeral Rule was promulgated in 1984 and revised in 1994. The Rule requires funeral homes to give consumers who visit a funeral home a copy of an itemized general price list that they can use to comparison shop. The Rule also makes clear that consumers do not have to buy a package deal. It requires funeral homes to give consumers itemized lists of the goods and services they have selected, so that they can be sure they are paying only for the items chosen or that state law requires.
A free FTC brochure for consumers, titled "Funerals: A Consumer Guide," provides additional information about consumers' rights and legal requirements when planning funerals. Copies are available at the address below.
The Commission vote to authorize filing of the Mississippi area cases was 5-0. They were filed on Sept. 10, 1996, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, in Jackson, by the Department of Justice at the FTC's request.
NOTE: These consent decrees are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute admissions by the defendants of law violations. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the FTC consumer brochure, the complaints and proposed consent decrees in these cases are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
FTC File Nos./Civil Action Nos:
Glenwood: 952 3250/ 5:96-CV-130 (BRS)
Stricklin: 952 3247/ 5:96-CV-131 (BRS)
Gregory: 952 3249/ 5:96-CV-132 (BRS)
W.H. Jefferson: 952 3248/ 5:96-CV-133 (BRS)
Robbins: 952 3246/ 5:96-CV-134 (BRS)
Williams: 952-3245/ 5:96-CV-135 (BRS)
Family Memorial: 952 3244/ 5:96-CV-136 (BRS)
Office of Public Affairs
Eileen Harrington or Thomas A. Cohn,
202-326-3128 or 202-326-3532