The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced a civil enforcement action against defendants Legacy Cremation Services LLC, Funeral & Cremation Group of North America LLC and Anthony Joseph Damiano for alleged violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) and the FTC’s Trade Regulation Rule Concerning Funeral Industry Practices (Funeral Rule).
According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the defendants, who arrange third-party cremation services, made deceptive statements to consumers about pricing for funeral and cremation services, misrepresented the location where services were to be provided and wrongfully withheld loved one’s remains. The FTC Act prohibits unfair and deceptive conduct and false advertising. The Funeral Rule prohibits providing consumers with inaccurate price information and requires certain disclosures to consumers regarding pricing for funeral-related goods.
The complaint seeks monetary relief, civil penalties and injunctive relief to stop defendants from continuing to violate the FTC Act and the Funeral Rule.
“Consumers are particularly vulnerable when a loved one passes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping companies and individuals from profiting off of consumers’ grief by engaging in unlawful and deceptive marketing practices when offering funeral arrangements. The department will continue to partner with the FTC to prevent unlawful and deceptive practices that take advantage of vulnerable consumers.”
“The financial and emotional exploitation of people when they are at their most vulnerable will not be tolerated in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “Together with our federal partners, we will continue to protect South Florida residents through vigorous enforcement of consumer protection laws.”
“Preying on consumers when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one is outrageous, and it’s illegal,” said Director Samuel Levine of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is committed to enforcing the Funeral Rule to protect both grieving consumers and honest funeral homes.”
This matter is being handled by Trial Attorneys Cody Matthew Herche and Wandaly Fernández García and Assistant Director Lisa K. Hsiao of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, and Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Weinkle for the Southern District of Florida. Rebecca Plett and Thomas Harris represent the FTC.