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Attorney General files complaint against Monroe funeral home

By Tina Alvey, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 22--The office of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a complaint against a Monroe County funeral home alleging violations of the state's Preneed Act and Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

Filed in Monroe County Circuit Court, the complaint names both Broyles-McGuire Funeral Home LLC and its owner, Joel L. McGuire, and asserts that a March 2013 audit of the Union funeral home by the attorney general's Preneed Unit discovered multiple violations of state law.

The alleged violations include at least eight death claims, totaling $60,512.36, that were made by and paid to the funeral home prior to the deaths of the beneficiaries; eight preneed contracts for which the funeral home failed to submit a death beneficiary report with the Preneed Unit to account for the withdrawals, expenditures and disbursements; and four occasions in which the funeral home accepted advanced payment, totaling $36,644.05, for funeral arrangements without depositing the consumers' funds into a trust account or preneed insurance policy as required by law.

The complaint also alleges the audit revealed four preneed contracts that the funeral home had failed to record with the state within 10 days of executing the contract, with required fees.

"The auditor in our Preneed Unit identified four separate areas of alleged violations and at least 12 West Virginia consumers who were affected by the defendants' conduct," Morrisey said.

The complaint asks the court to prohibit the funeral home and its owner from selling, making available and/or acting as the provider of any preneed funeral products or services in West Virginia. It seeks an order requiring a refund of all money received from West Virginia consumers as advance payment for preneed contracts not already performed and asks the court to require the funeral home to turn over all preneed contracts to the state.

Additionally, the complaint seeks civil penalties of $5,000 per violation, as well as punitive damages equal to three times the actual damages awarded in the judgment, plus interest.

Contacted by telephone at the funeral home Wednesday afternoon, McGuire referred inquiries to his attorney, Jeffry A. Pritt.

Pritt said only, "We will file an appropriate response in the time frame required by the Circuit Court of Monroe County."

-- E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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(c)2014 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.)

Visit The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.) at www.register-herald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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