(CHILLICOTHE, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today filed a lawsuit against The Serenity Group, which operates Floral Hills Memory Gardens (Floral Hills) cemeteries in Chillicothe and Circleville, Ohio. The lawsuit charges the company with failure to deliver grave markers to consumers.
"This company accepted advanced payment for grave markers but failed to deliver. We made numerous attempts to resolve these issues out of court, but the company has not fulfilled its promises," Attorney General DeWine said. "Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult, and consumers shouldn't have to worry that their cemetery won't live up to its promises."
Floral Hills cemeteries are located at 4284 US 23 S. in Chillicothe and 17544 Little Walnut Road in Circleville.
In May 2011, the Attorney General and Floral Hills entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (out-of-court settlement) to resolve consumer complaints filed with the Attorney General's Office. The company agreed to resolve complaints filed before and after the settlement.
Although Floral Hills resolved complaints filed before the agreement, it has failed to resolve new complaints. The Attorney General's Office currently has 26 unresolved complaints against Floral Hills and believes additional consumers may have been affected. In their complaints, consumers report estimated damages totaling more than $35,000.
The lawsuit charges The Serenity Group, doing business as Floral Hills, and its owners, Ronald Downey and Joseph Miller, with failure to deliver, a violation of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act. The suit seeks consumer restitution, injunctive relief, and civil penalties.
Attorney General DeWine encourages consumers to research cemeteries and funeral homes with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau before doing business with them. Consumers also should check with the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, to see if a cemetery is registered and to see if any complaints have been lodged against a cemetery.
Cemetery prices can vary widely, so consumers who prepay for cemetery or funeral services should take time to understand exactly what the payment covers and how their funds will be handled. They also should check cancellation policies and whether they can transfer their plans.
In general, consumers who have complaints against cemeteries, such as maintenance issues, should contact the Ohio Department of Commerce at 216-787-5669 or at http://www.com.ohio.gov/real/cemain.aspx.
Consumers who paid Floral Hills for a grave marker or vault that was never delivered should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti: 614-466-3840
Copy of Complaint (PDF)