Washington Report 012001

Date Published: 
Original Author: 
Robert M. Fells
Original Publication: 
ICCFA Magazine

Lawsuit Alleges Harassment by Funeral Directors Association in Pennsylvania 

by Robert M. Fells, Esq., general counsel 
A private lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania alleges that the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association (PFDA) and a number of individuals violated the Constitution and antitrust law by engaging in harassment, malicious prosecution and other alleged acts of misconduct in order to prevent competition in the sale of prepaid funeral services through life insurance.
The plaintiffs, Robert Rae and his company, Commonwealth Funeral Consultants Inc., claim that defendants' actions have had a devastating effect on their business operations. Plaintiffs seek millions of dollars in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. The nine-count complaint filed on November 16 in the federal district court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleges that individual defendants would threaten to impose state funeral board actions, including investigations and litigation, against various persons and companies if these entities did not stop selling preneed funerals through insurance.
Earlier litigation is making its way through the state court system to determine the meaning of Pennsylvania's funeral law, including whether the statute actually prohibits the sale of prepaid funerals through insurance. ICFA members will be kept informed of important developments involving these issues.