AG's office stops funeral home from selling pre-need contracts

CHARLESTON -- Wetzel County Circuit Judge John T. Madden has granted Attorney General Darrell McGraw's motion to permanently enjoin Iams Funeral Home from selling or servicing pre-need funeral contracts.

Madden's April 25 order makes the preliminary injunction granted in November 2007 permanent. Madden also ordered Iams to transfer all of his open pre-need funeral contracts and to release the money paid by consumers to fund these contracts to the funeral homes that will service them in the future, according to a news release from McGraw's office.

Iams further was ordered to reimburse funeral homes that had previously serviced some of his preneed funeral contracts but had not been paid.

"These defendants have now been held accountable for their failure to comply with the Pre-need Funeral Contracts Act," McGraw said in the release. "This statute protects consumers who wish to buy peace of mind when purchasing their funerals. The Legislature has entrusted the oversight of the pre-need funeral services industry to my office, and we take that responsibility very seriously."

On Oct. 24, 2007, McGraw's office filed a complaint against Iams Funeral Home and John L. Iams II, alleging numerous violations of the West Virginia Pre-need Funeral Contracts Act. These violations included operating without a Certificate of Authority, operating without a license to sell pre-need funeral contacts, and operating without a business license. Iams also refused to transfer pre-need funeral contracts upon the request of the contract buyer.

Iams and the funeral home were represented by Hiram Lewis, a Republican candidate for Attorney General. McGraw's press release said the "numerous hearings" often become "very contentious."

"At one hearing, Judge Madden ordered the bailiff to take Mr. Lewis to the Regional Jail, but relented after Mr. Lewis agreed to behave," the release said.

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