Heffner v Murphy
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition
UPDATE - September 02, 2014
UPDATE - August 19, 2014
The State Board of Funeral Directors submit reply brief to the Supreme Court.
UPDATE - JULY 16, 2014
Plaintiffs have taken an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Petition and accompanying paperwork was due in the Court on or before July 15. We expect to have a decision in the first couple weeks of October.
UPDATE - APRIL 02, 2014
There is a joint movement by both parties to move the Court to amend its August 22nd, 2012 Order.
The Plaintiffs originally requested $1,394,713.50. The Court granted the Plaintiff's' initial Motion for Interim Award of Attorney's Fees in the amount of $1,112,034.80. The parties agree that the Court's August 22, 2012 Order regarding attorneys' fees should be amended in light of the Third Circuit's ruling.
UPDATE - MARCH 27, 2014
Third Circuit Court of Appeals decides to uphold Judge Jones' mandate.
UPDATE - March 17, 2014
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has DENIED the Plaintiffs, Heffner, et. al., Petition for Rehearing.
UPDATE - February 19, 2014
Click here to read the entire Heffner v Murphy Third Circuit Court of Appeals Decision
JONES DECISION OVERTURNED ON ALL BUT ONE COUNT!
The Third Circuit ruled today that Ernie Heffner's challenge to multiple provisions of the Funeral Law are NOT unconstitutional, reversing Judge Jones' decision of August, 2012. "...[W]e surmise that much of the District Court's conclusions regarding the constitutionality of the FDL, enacted in 1952, stem from a view that certain provisions of the FDL are antiquated in light of how funeral homes now operate. That is not, however, a constitutional flaw." Jones has been ordered to revise his 2012 Order accordingly.
Specifically, the Court held as follows:
1) The provision of the Funeral law requiring random inspections without a warrant is permitted;
2) The provision of the Funeral law which allows ownership of only a main and a branch location is upheld;
3) The provision of the Funeral law which allows only licensed funeral directors to own funeral establishments, including the exceptions for family of restricted business corporations, widowers/widows, estate licenses, etc. is upheld;
4) The provision of the Funeral law which restricts where a licensee can practice is upheld;
5) The provision of the Funeral law which requires every funeral home to have a full time supervisor is upheld (this means that one person supervising multiple establishments will not be permitted);
6) The provision of the Funeral law which requires every funeral home to have a preparation room is upheld;
7) The provision of the Funeral law which prohibits service of food in the funeral home is upheld;
8) The provision of the Funeral law which prohibits the use of trade names is affirmed, meaning that fictitious names will be permissible;
9) The provision of the Funeral law which governs 100% trusting is upheld; and
10) The provision that prohibits the payment of commission to agents or employees is upheld.
While there may be some of you who do not agree with each and every aspect of this ruling, it is a major victory for licensees and the consuming public. It preserves the security of 100% of preneed monies, prohibits unlicensed persons from receiving commissions for upselling vulnerable citizens, mandates random inspections of funeral homes and keeps preparation rooms in funeral homes.
For those of you who have taken advantage of certain changes enabled by Judge Jones' ruling such as name changes, supervision of multiple facilities, etc. you should be aware that those changes were granted provisionally pending the outcome of this case. Since the Third Circuit has reversed all of Jones' holdings with the exception of fictitious names, we will keep you informed of the State Board's intentions. In preliminary discussions with counsel to the State Board, it appears that those items on the agenda for tomorrow's State Board meeting will either be tabled or provisionally denied. As to those who have been previously granted, for example, supervision of multiple facilities, you will probably be given a grace period in which to come into compliance with the old law. Right now, there is no reason to panic or take any action. We will provide further guidance as the State Board provides us information.