By Peggy Mackenzie
A civil case, dated Oct. 31, 2014, has been filed in the Greenbrier County Circuit Court against Shanklin Funeral Home, Inc. in White Sulphur Springs for charging for headstones and cemetery services but never providing them. In the complaint, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey states he believes defendants Shanklin Funeral Home, Inc. (SFH) and owner Zivo V. Walkup have engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in cemetery goods and services. The state seeks restitution for consumers who were harmed by the defendants, and along with court costs, investigative costs and attorney fees, Morrisey is seeking penalties of $5,000 for each violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
Under the Act, unfair or deceptive acts or practices include “the act, use or employment by any person of any description, fraud, false pretense, false promise or misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any goods or services, whether or not any person has in fact been mislead, deceived or damaged thereby.”
Complaints were received by Morrisey’s office stating that SFH had taken their money and had not provided the promised cemetery goods and services. The complaint states SFH failed multiple times to provide the cemetery goods and services within a reasonable time, and refused multiple times to refund consumers’ money for services not performed despite complaints about delays. The state has received at least seven complaints from consumers since 2005.
Morrisey included an example of the alleged deception by SFH: In April of 2012, a resident of Greenbrier County purchased a dual cemetery headstone to be placed at her deceased husband’s gravesite. She paid $2,031.90 in advance on Apr. 26, 2012. She was told the stone would be in place within two months. However, over the next two years, upon visiting the site once or twice a week, she found the stone had not been put in place. Numerous excuses were given by Walkup, and SFH has refused to refund her money.
Morrisey has requested the court prohibit SFH from engaging in the sale of any cemetery goods and services of any kind in the State of West Virginia; prohibit the defendant from transferring or conveying any real or personal property in his custody or control to any third party until this matter has been adjudicated; provide the attorney general within 15 calendar days a list of all of their customers relating to the sale of goods and services, and with the judgement, pay restitution to all aggrieved consumers.