Indiana Funeral Home Said to Target Mentally Ill

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – An Indiana funeral home and cemetery targeted mental health patients to sell them thousands of dollars of pre-need funeral services, the guardian of an alleged victim claims in court.
     In a class action filed Monday in the Marion County, Ind. Superior Court, Deitra Covington claims defendant Crown Hill Management, which does business as the Crown Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery, violated the Indiana Pre-Need Act, by targeting vulnerable patients who reside in mental health care facilities to sell them expense funeral service packages.
     According to the complaint, at least one patient, Vivian Jackson, was taken for over $11,000 in unwanted services.
     Covington says Jackson, who is her mother, has suffered from mental illness much of her life, and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis in 2008.
     After Covington became her legal guardian, Jackson entered the Wishard Health Services Florence House in Indianapolis.
     It was at the Florence House, in April of 2012, that Jackson was approached by a representative of Crown Hill, who was selling pre-need funeral services, the complaint says.
     The salesperson was successful, selling Jackson $9,268 worth of services, and charging an additional $2,481 in finance charges.
     The Crown Hill employee allegedly then set up an automatic payment system, which deducted monthly installment payments from Jackson’s account, which is where her monthly Social Security benefits were deposited.
     Despite Covington being Jackson’s legal guardian, she allegedly knew nothing of the contract with Crown Hill, and did not learn of it until 2014, after Jackson had moved in with her, and bills started to appear.
     Covington contacted Crown Hill, told the person she spoke to that her mother did not want to be buried in its cemetery, that she was not mentally able to enter such a contract, and asked for a refund for the $4,167 the company had already collected.
     She says Crown Hill told her that the only choice was to apply the payments to a grave site, otherwise they would consider the contract in default, and keep the payments. The complaint says that Crown Hill also offered a contract for a grave site, but never issued a refund.
     The suit seeks class status for all Indiana residents who were under the care of a health facility and purchased pre-need services from Crown Hill.
     Covington seeks unspecified damages on behalf of the class for violations of the Indiana Pre-Need and Deceptive Consumer Sales Acts.
     She is represented by Irwin Levin of Indianapolis.

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