Complaint alleges Stockert-Sizemore Funeral Home violated the West Virginia Preneed Act and state Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

Updated 2 years ago From a News Release by WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his Office recently filed a complaint against a now-closed Braxton County funeral home and its owner alleging that they violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act, as well as the West Virginia Preneed Act.

 
The complaint alleges the former Stockert-Sizemore Funeral Home Inc. and its previous owner, Timothy Sizemore, of Nitro, misappropriated money from consumers who were trying to prepay their funeral costs, did not register some preneed funeral contracts with the State, and used unfair and deceptive practices when selling preneed contracts to consumers. The complaint alleges the defendants engaged in continuous violations of the Preneed Act and Consumer Act from at least 2008 until April 2013.
 
The funeral home went through foreclosure in November 2013 and was sold at auction. The funeral home now goes by a different name and has new owners.  The Office’s complaint does not allege any wrongdoing by the current owners, who have been fully cooperating with and assisting the Attorney General’s Office.
 
“This complaint seeks to protect senior citizens and others who in good faith tried to prepay for their funerals so as not to burden their loved ones with additional expenses at what may already be a sad and stressful time,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “These contracts were entered into in good faith, and people must be confident that when they enter into a contract with a business the business will uphold its end of the deal.”
 
The complaint alleges the funeral home accepted a total of $30,593.08 from at least seven individuals as advance payment for funeral services but then failed to deposit that money into a trust account or insurance policy under the individual’s name, which is a violation of the law. It also alleges the funeral home failed to forward to the state copies of consumers’ preneed contracts. Funeral homes are required by law to file those forms within 10 days. The complaint alleges that didn’t happen.
 
The complaint also alleges Sizemore failed to keep accurate accounts, books and/or records of all of their transactions. As a result, the true location of consumers’ advance payments could not be readily determined.
 
“Our Office identified multiple areas of violation and at least 12 West Virginia consumers who were affected by the defendants’ conduct,” Morrisey said.
 
The complaint asks for civil penalties of $5,000 per violation and punitive damages equal to three times the civil penalties. It also asks the judge to order the funeral home to refund all consumer preneed advance payments it has received for funerals it has not yet performed, turn over to the State all preneed contracts it may have entered into, and produce any documents and/or records pertaining to any prepayment or agreement to prepay for funeral goods or services by any consumer prior to the death of the consumer or payment beneficiary
 
The complaint also seeks an order prohibiting Sizemore from transferring or conveying any real or personal property in his control to any third party until the matter has been adjudicated.
 
The complaint was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court and was assigned case number 14-C-1953.
 
A copy of the complaint can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1x7J5vF.
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