WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today filed a consumer lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order against Austin Royster Funeral Home and two individuals who owned or operated the home for operating without the proper licenses and charging grieving families for services it did not provide. Attorney General Racine also warned consumers against doing any further business with Austin Royster, located at 502 Kennedy Street NW in the District’s Brightwood Park neighborhood.
“Grieving families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are being taken advantage of while mourning the loss of their loved ones. We are deeply concerned that Austin Royster may have engaged in multiple unlawful practices while providing funeral services,” said Attorney General Racine. “Our office is working hard to help relatives and friends of the deceased individuals conclude their affairs and get restitution.”
Austin Royster has been operating without proper licensing for substantial periods of time, which means that families could not receive death certificates for their deceased loved ones and conclude their affairs. Without a death certificate, consumers are unable to access the deceased’s bank accounts and insurance policies, begin probate proceedings, or even bury or cremate their loved one’s body.
The funeral home, OAG’s lawsuit alleges, also failed to provide funeral services as promised and misappropriated consumer funds. This includes allegedly accepting an insurance payment of $53,000 for services costing $5,767 and failing to return the $47,243 owed to the consumer. The lawsuit is available here, and the motion for a temporary restraining order is available here.
For Consumers Who May Have Been Harmed by Austin Royster’s Actions
If you are a District resident and think you may have been the victim in this case or from any type of fraud or scam, you can file a consumer complaint by calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submitting your complaint via this webform.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from businesses that take advantage of consumers, visit OAG’s Consumer Protection Library at https://oag.dc.gov/consumerprotection.
For Families Whose Loved Ones’ Remains Were in Austin Royster’s Possession
As the result of an ongoing investigation, remains of deceased individuals have been removed from the Austin Royster Funeral Home and are now in the possession of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Attorney General Racine and the District’s Chief Medical Examiner, Roger A. Mitchell, are asking families who have recently worked with Austin Royster to call OCME at (202) 698-9000to get more information and make alternative arrangements.