Service Corp. Funeral Services Abuse of Consumer Rights
Currently, businesses across the country that offer funeral services such as cremations, burials, etc. are having to deal with an increased demand due to the fatalities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of deaths due to COVID-19, as of the writing of this article, is about 74,000 according to the CDC. This number is just an estimate since many cases of coronavirus go unreported, and because people die due to complications caused by COVID-19 from pre-existing conditions. This pandemic has put a strain on the funeral service industry, and unfortunately, some have decided to use the effects of this virus to capitalize on the fear of consumers.
Service Corp. International Class Action Lawsuit
The largest funeral and cremation service in the entire United States is currently facing a putative class action lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida over their sales practices. The lawsuit alleges that Service Corporation International exploited seniors and infringed on their consumer rights. The plaintiff, Nancy Taylor of West Palm Beach, claims that the six companies that are owned by the funeral and cremation service provider, Service Corp. International, as well as twenty ‘John Does’ tricked her, among many others, into purchasing prepaid funeral services that took advantage of a Florida law regarding prepaid services.
Many people were, and still are, very anxious about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the funeral and cremation service industry. Because of this, some leaped at the opportunity to prepay for services at the “then-current price” before circumstances made securing said funeral services much more difficult. This is understandable and not unheard of since many industries offer similar services.
Funeral Exploitation due to COVID-19 Allegations
Service Corporation International and others offering this type of prepaid service are required to place at least 70% of the customer’s prepaid money into a trust account to protect the consumer. Additionally, consumers are entitled to a full refund of this prepaid service and the trust fund keeps the money available in case the company offering the prepaid service goes out of business or is unable to pay back the money for some other reason.
Nancy Taylor and many others claim that Service Corp. split the prepaid service into separate contracts. Their lawsuit alleges that Service Corp. International heavily discounted their funeral and cremation services in their prepaid offerings but drastically overcharged for other things such as funeral urns, guest books, flowers, etc. that guests would need as part of their funeral and cremation services.
As a result, the plaintiff claims that she was only able to get a refund for the funeral and cremation services she prepaid but was unable to get a refund on the overpriced additional merchandise that Service Corp. International allegedly marked up to take advantage of their consumers. She goes on to allege that Service Corp. International only put around half of the money they should have put into the trust that was meant to protect consumers under Florida law.
In a nutshell, the allegation is that they highly discounted the services that were refundable, but jacked up the prices on the items that were not. This would have allegedly allowed them to keep a larger portion of the money if a refund was requested.
Past Controversies from Unethical Funeral Services
Service Corp. International is absolutely no stranger to claims that their business practices are unethical and take advantage of their consumers. Previous controversies involving the massive funeral and cremation service provider involve a similar lawsuit last December.
California Service Corp. Lawsuit
The previous lawsuit brought against Service Corp. International by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra alleged that the funeral and cremation service company underfunded the trust fund meant to protect consumer investments by $100 million. This was allegedly accomplished through sales practices that misled customers.
South Florida Improperly Buried Remains Lawsuit
In addition to this, Service Corp. International was sued in 2012 over allegations that two of their cemeteries located in South Florida mishandled remains and improperly buried bodies. The lawsuit was eventually resolved with Service. Corp. International paying a $100 million settlement to those they allegedly harmed through unethical business practices.
Consumer protection From Unlawful Business Practices
As a consumer, you have a number of rights put in place to protect you from predatory business practices as well as negligent behavior on the part of businesses. Whether you have been injured by a defective product or you have been the victim of a funeral service company that has taken advantage of prepaid funeral and cremation services, you reserve the right to justice. Those businesses that have violated consumer protection laws can be sued for their unlawful business practices.
Filing a class action lawsuit is not simply seeking money because you have been slighted a violation of your consumer rights. It’s a way of sparing others from these unlawful business practices by punishing the perpetrator. The idea is to hit a corporation where they will feel it the most, their wallet, so that others will not have to go through the same frustrations and suffering.
Seniors already have enough to deal with during the coronavirus pandemic. Being ripped off should not be one of their concerns.
Seek an Experienced Florida Consumer Rights Attorney
If you or a loved one have purchased a prepaid funeral or cremation service from Service Corporation International or another major funeral and cremation service provider, you may be entitled to take legal action via a class action lawsuit. These lawsuits work by having a group of people wronged by the unlawful practices of a certain business come together to file one cohesive lawsuit, rather than each person fighting the giant company individually. Then, ideally, those who have been wronged will secure financial relief and be able to hold these businesses accountable in the court of law.
At Dolman Law Group, we can provide you with the experience, knowledge, and resources that you will need to ensure that the legal action you take is successful. Violation of consumer rights is not something that people already dealing with the grief of making funeral arrangements should have to be concerned about.
Dolman Law Group is passionate about assisting those affected by unlawful business practices and will work with you to recover financial relief. To contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your claim, you can either call our office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online. We look forward to serving you.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765