Press Releases

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Sues Westchester Funeral Home And Its President For Unfair Trade Practices

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday May 10, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Willard K. Tom General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), announced today that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against HARRISON FUNERAL HOME, INC. (“HARRISON”), a funeral home in Westchester County, New York, and its President JOHN BALSAMO (“BALSAMO”) for engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices in connection with the provision of funeral services.  The Government’s Complaint seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief barring HARRISON and BALSAMO from violating the law in the future. 

According to the Complaint filed today in White Plains federal court: 

The FTC promulgated what is known as the Funeral Rule to ensure that people inquiring about funeral arrangements receive full and fair pricing information and are not taken advantage of by funeral providers through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges, or unnecessary services.  The law is aimed at protecting grieving individuals from being taken advantage of by funeral providers, and requires that information about prices be disclosed to persons inquiring about funeral arrangements and that they be given written price lists and statements of the funeral goods they selected to purchase.

The Complaint alleges that HARRISON committed five violations of the Funeral Rule by failing to provide the required price lists to persons inquiring about funeral services on four separate occasions.  Although HARRISON and BALSAMO were advised of their violations of the Funeral Rule and given the option of enrolling in a voluntary program aimed at preventing future violations, HARRISON and BALSAMO failed to enroll their employees in the program’s required trainings and continued to violate the Funeral Rule.

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The Complaint seeks civil penalties in the maximum amount allowed under the FTC for five separate violations of the Funeral Rule in 2010, as well as injunctive relief barring HARRISON and BALSAMO from violating the Funeral Rule in the future.

Mr. Bharara thanked the FTC for its assistance in this case.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie N. Kuehler is in charge of the case.


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