Funeral home owner agrees to judgment
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
She didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, but Barbara Buescher last week agreed to a consent judgment ordering her to pay a $15,000 penalty to “settle the allegations of civil contempt,” in Cole County Presiding Circuit Judge Pat Joyce’s words.
In September 2012, a previous court order prohibited Buescher and her now-closed Buescher Memorial Home from entering into any pre-need funeral contracts, and it required them to pay $29,500 in costs and penalties.
Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said, in a news release announcing that 2012 order, that Buescher and the home already had “paid $283,378.66 in restitution to compensate 60 consumers who had purchased pre-need contracts with the defendants.”
But less than a year after getting that order, the attorney general’s office told the court that Buescher had violated the 2012 order.
Joyce’s three-page order last week noted that Buescher and the home “do not make any admission of liability in this matter” to the state’s accusation that they “have engaged in acts from which the Judgment enjoined them.”
Both sides told the court they had agreed on the terms used in the consent judgment.
Koster’s office originally sued Buescher and the home on Nov. 10, 2009, accusing them of mishandling numerous pre-need funeral contracts — where a customer makes funeral arrangements and pays in advance for those services.
State officials also won a temporary court order in November 2009, barring Buescher and the home from performing any funeral services — a ban that has continued.
Koster said with the 2012 court order that Buescher still had five pre-need contracts remaining, and that judgment required her to transfer any remaining pre-need accounts to a licensed pre-need seller or provider — or to the purchaser’s next of kin or estate — within 30 days.
Joyce’s order didn’t detail what violations the state accused Buescher and the home of committing.
The $15,000 is to be paid to the state’s Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund by Feb. 21.
Joyce also ordered: “If for any reason, whatsoever, the Defendants fail to make payment when due, the State of Missouri may seek execution of the entire unpaid judgment amount, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of collection.”
Nanci Gonder, Koster’s spokeswoman, said in an email that the attorney general’s office has no other “pending actions” against Buescher or the funeral home business.
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