On July 27th, a Missouri court will consider a motion filed by the Missouri State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to be dismissed from the lawsuit filed by the Missouri Funeral Trust. One of the allegations made by the Missouri Funeral Trust was that confidential information obtained by a state auditor regarding the program’s weaknesses have been communicated to participating funeral homes by a competitor. The Missouri Funeral Trust has requested the court to order the State Board to cease auditing the program until all sensitive information and documents can be properly protected. But what is rather odd about the lawsuit is that the Missouri Funeral Trust has not alleged that the information or documents purportedly being leaked to MFT members is either inaccurate or fraudulent. So, the MFT is suing to be the sole source of information to its program members.
The Missouri lawsuit should seem a bit of déjà vu when one considers that it was 9 years ago when Minnesota regulators forced that state’s master trust to be disbanded. The Minnesota Funeral Trust could not earn enough to pay its expenses, which resulted in the Minnesota Department of Health and the association battling over the information that was to be provided to the program’s funeral home members. In the end, the association was forced to enter a Stipulation and Consent Order, and to provide certain information to its members. Individual funeral homes also signed consent orders that allowed them to assume control of the trust funds sold in their name.
The request for a gag order has some asking whether the Missouri Funeral Trust also has secrets it wants to hide from its members.