Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Arkansas Funeral Care
August 8, 2017
Former owners can never operate in the funeral care business and must pay restitution to consumers
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached settlement against Arkansas Funeral Care and its owners for failing to provide funeral-care services in a timely, professional and respectful manner, and in some cases did not provide the services at all.
“Our loved ones deserve to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Regrettably, Arkansas Funeral Care ignored this responsibility and egregiously violated the trust of Arkansans. This settlement prevents the former owners from operating in the funeral care business and provides for restitution payments to consumers.”
The Attorney General’s office received numerous complaints from affected families in which Arkansas Funeral Care did not perform various agreed-upon funeral-care services, including: failure to provide cremation services, nauseating odor of bodies that were left unrefrigerated without being embalmed, failure to provide adequate staff to transport bodies and untimely receipt of death certificates.
Arkansans reported delays in embalming that caused extreme levels of decomposition to the bodies, resulting in some not having the ability to hold an open-casket service and one person reported that the cremation of her husband, a veteran, was delayed over three weeks and was not available for his memorial service.
Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Funeral Care in January 2016 and stated that Arkansans entered into written contracts for chosen funeral goods and services with Arkansas Funeral Care based on advertised representations on their website, as well as other oral representations made during the sales process. The contracts detailed the costs of the funeral goods and services to be rendered at the time of need.
Under the terms of today’s settlement agreement, Arkansas Funeral Care will provide restitution to outstanding consumer complainants to whom the business provided services between Aug. 1, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2015 who have not yet received compensation. Arkansas Funeral Care has paid restitution to some consumers through the order of the Embalmers and Funeral Directors Board and in several private suits. Through the settlement negotiation process, the State was able to determine which of its complainants paid for funeral care services during the agreed-upon window of time, and Defendants agreed to provide restitution to those consumers. Consumers who purchased funeral insurance should be reminded that the insurance is portable and need not be used at the funeral establishment where it was purchased.
In addition, the owners of Arkansas Funeral Care are permanently restrained from personally, or as part of any business entity, operating in the funeral care business in the State, and the former owners may not hold any license governed by the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The former owners are also responsible for $10,000 in civil penalties to the State of Arkansas.