November 21, 2007
Kansas City, Mo. — A Prairie Village, Kan. cremation society that has been selling pre-paid funeral plans to Missouri consumers without complying with Missouri pre-need funeral laws is the target of a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon filed a petition today in Jackson County Circuit Court against Cremation Society of Kansas and Missouri (CSKM) and its directors Jim Hawkins, William Porter and Richard Wiseman, seeking injunctive relief, penalties and costs.
Missouri law requires that businesses that sell and provide pre-need funeral plans must be registered with the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. On May 18 the state board sent CSKM, which services metropolitan Kansas City on both sides of the state line, a cease and desist letter advising the business that it was not in compliance with Missouri law and that is must stop all activity involving Missouri residents until it is properly registered. Nixon alleges that despite the demand, CSKM has failed to comply with Missouri law and continued to operate without the registration.
In addition, Nixon says, none of CSKM’s individual sellers (Hawkins, Porter and Wiseman) has properly registered with the state board as a pre-need seller. The defendants have also failed to protect the funds paid by consumers who have purchased pre-paid funeral plans because they have not deposited the funds into a trust account as required by Missouri law.
At least three Missouri consumers filed complaints about CSKM with the Attorney General’s Office, stating that the defendants misrepresented to them that they were properly registered and licensed to sell and provide pre-need funeral services contracts to Missouri consumers.
“It’s critically important that those businesses that are marketing and providing pre-need funeral services in Missouri are properly licensed, to ensure that payments made by consumers for their loved ones’ funeral arrangements are honored,” Nixon said. “This business was given proper notice to cease violating our state law in this area, but has not responded.”
Nixon’s lawsuit requests that the court issue an injunction prohibiting the defendants from continuing to violate state law by selling or providing pre-need funeral plans in Missouri without a license. The Attorney General is also requesting that the court order the defendants to pay restitution, appropriate penalties and court costs.