Two class action lawsuits were filed last year over the mismanagement of Grandview Memorial Gardens (Madison, Indiana), and a settlement has been reached in the suit involving the cemetery’s preneed trust funds. Over the course of about 14 years, the cemetery went through three changes of ownership, four trustee changes and sold several million dollars of preneed contracts. When Indiana regulators examined the Grandview preneed trust in 2006, they found $144,000 of assets. Then the regulators began to tally the cemetery’s preneed liabilities, but found those obligations exceeded the trust’s balance before they got to the purchasers whose names began with “B”.
With regard to the fiduciaries that administered the Grandview trust, the plaintiffs’ attorneys included one basic discovery request that may have proved damaging to the banks: show us your policies and procedures for administering a preneed account. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has issued written guidance to national banks advising of the need for internal controls, and policies and procedures for the preneed account. Taking a page from the OCC memorandum, the Grandview attorneys focused their discovery on the banks’ oversight of Grandview’s preneed trust.
Specifically, the discovery sought to confirm that each fiduciary had accounting procedures to determine whether: (1) distributions exceeded an account’s deposits and income, and (2) deposits could be identified by a particular preneed purchaser.
While the settlement does not represent an admission by the defendants, the fiduciaries agreed to pay $216,000 to the plaintiffs.