Commission Approves Proposed Divestiture by Service Corporation International, et al.; FTC Issues Federal Register Notice Concerning Commissions Leather Guides; Commission Receives Tenth Application for Proposed Divestiture in Matter of SCI/Alderwoods

For Your Information

Commission approval of proposed divestiture: The Commission has approved a petition from Service Corporation International (SCI) and Alderwoods Group, Inc. seeking approval of a proposed divestiture related to SCI’s recent acquisition of Alderwoods. In the FTC’s consent agreement and order allowing the transaction to proceed with conditions, SCI and Alderwoods were required to divest a range of funeral home and cemetery services companies. Through this petition, a public version of which can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release, the companies requested approval to divest Universal Chung Wah Funeral Directors of Alhambra, California (the funeral home to be divested), to New Universal Chung Wah, LLC, and Universal Chung Wah Funeral Directors, Inc. (collectively Universal), which are entities owned in part by employees of the funeral home to be divested. The Commission has now approved that petition.

The Commission vote approving the proposed divestiture was 5-0. (FTC File No. 061-0156, Docket No. C-4174; the staff contact is Elizabeth A. Piotrowski, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2623; see press release dated November 22, 2006.)

Commission approval of Federal Register notice: The Commission has approved the publication of a Federal Register notice requesting comments on the agency’s Guides for Select Leather and Imitation Leather Products (Leather Guides). The Federal Register notice will be published shortly and is available now on the Commission’s Web site. As part of the FTC’s ongoing regulatory review program, the Commission is now accepting public comments on the Leather Guides, which were adopted in 1996. The Guides address misrepresentations regarding the composition and characteristics of certain leather and imitation leather products, and state that disclosure of non-leather content should be made for material that appears to be leather. but is not leather. The Federal Register notice contains a brief overview of the Leather Guides, as well as questions that seek comment on the continuing need for the Guides, their economic impacts and benefits, whether they should be modified, possible conflicts between the Guides and other laws, changes in consumer perceptions and preferences, and the effect that changes in technology, economic conditions, or environmental conditions have had on the Guides. Comments must be received by the Commission by July 23, 2007.

The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (FTC File No. P078008; the staff contact is Susan E. Arthur, FTC Southwest Region, 214-979-9370.)

Petition for approval of proposed divestiture: The Commission has received a petition from Service Corporation International (SCI) and Alderwoods Group, Inc. seeking approval of a proposed divestiture related to SCI’s recent acquisition of Alderwoods. In the FTC’s consent agreement and order allowing the transaction to proceed with conditions, SCI and Alderwoods were required to divest a range of funeral home and cemetery services companies. Through this petition, a public version of which can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release, the companies have requested approval to divest Miller’s Tulare Funeral Home in Tulare, California, and Whitehurst-McNamara Funeral Service in Hanford, California, to Wilson Family Funeral Chapel, Inc.

The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed divestiture for 30 days, until June 16, 2007, after which it will decide whether to approve it. Comments should be sent to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. (FTC File No. 061-0156, Docket No. C-4174; the staff contact is Elizabeth A. Piotrowski, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2623; see press release dated November 22, 2006.)

Commission approval of staff comments: The FTC has approved the filing of comments by the staffs of the Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Competition, and the Bureau of Economics, with the Rules Committee of the Connecticut Superior Court regarding the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) within the state. As detailed in the comments, the Superior Court is considering a modification to the state’s Rules of Practice that will declare certain activities to be considered the unauthorized practice of law. The Comments are similar to comments the Commission’s staff has filed jointly with the Department of Justice in other states expressing concern that proposed UPL restrictions were overly broad and were likely to unduly restrict competition between lawyers and non-lawyers for many services, with no clear evidence that non-attorney services harm consumers.

In the comments filed today with the Superior Court, the staff responds to proposed changes to Section 2-44A of the Rules of Practice, stating that, “We are concerned that the Proposed Rules could be interpreted in an overly broad manner, which would have an adverse effect on competition and consumers.” The staff recommends that the rules be clarified “to provide ample guidance to the public as to what types of conduct the Court will and will not consider punishable as the unauthorized practice of law.” Finally, the comments state that any changes should be guided by the principle that “only services requiring the skill or knowledge of a lawyer should be reserved as the practice of law.” The comments can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the comments with State Representative Stone was 5-0. (FTC File No. V070006; the staff contact is Gustav P. Chiarello, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3633.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180