DC funeral home faces lawsuit after complaints with service, lack of proper licenses

WASHINGTON — D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a consumer lawsuit Monday against Austin Royster Funeral Home after finding that it had operated without proper licenses and charged families thousands for services it did not provide.

Racine warns consumers against doing any more business with the funeral home, located at 502 Kennedy St. NW. Take a look at the detailed lawsuit here.

Not only had Austin Royster operated without proper licensing, an employee had acted without being licensed as a funeral director, the lawsuit claimed. The funeral home had been without one license since February 2016, and it operated without another needed license from June to October of this year.

Because of the lack of proper licenses, the funeral home could not obtain death certificates for families. This meant families could not “access the deceased’s bank accounts and insurance policies, begin probate proceedings, or even bury or cremate the body,” according to the lawsuit.

One client, whose mother died in September of this year, still hadn’t received a death certificate by the end of October. As of Nov. 19, she had not received her mother’s death certificate and had only received erratic excuses, detailed in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims Austin Royster misappropriated consumer funds. In another case, the funeral home accepted an insurance payment in July 2017 of $53,000 for services costing $5,767, but failed to refund the $47,243 that had been promised. The man who was supposed to receive the refund had even driven to D.C. from Florida to claim it, according to documents, but had not received the refund as of Nov. 19.

Racine has also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the funeral home Monday.

“Grieving families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are being taken advantage of while mourning the loss of their loved ones,” Racine said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that Austin Royster may have engaged in multiple unlawful practices while providing funeral services.”

Remains of the deceased have been removed from the funeral home and are now in the possession of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, according to D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General.

Families who have recently worked with Austin Royster can call 202-698-9000 to get more information.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

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