They allegedly delivered headstones with incorrect dates and misspelled names.
They installed headstones facing the wrong direction.
And sometimes they failed to deliver headstones and gravesite markers at all.
On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the now-defunct National Memorial Stone Co. in Toledo; its parent company, P&E Industries, LLC; and its owner and operator, Richard Daily of Newport, Mich.
The complaint was brought after the Attorney General's Office received some 25 complaints about the company, most of which involved problems customers experienced in 2016, said Dorcas Jones, a spokesman for Mr. DeWine's office.
Among those aggrieved is Michelle Thompson of Findlay, who said she paid $1,591 for a headstone for her brother when she ordered it in September, 2015, and then didn’t hear back from the company for months of unanswered phone and email messages. She finally got reached them the following June and signed the proof for the headstone.
“And I’ve never been able to get a hold of them since,” she said. “I called, and called, and called and they never returned my calls.... I am very upset about it. My brother hasn’t got a headstone. He has a piece of paper for a marker. And he has been gone for 3-1/2 years.”
Robert Schlievert of Whitehouse said he paid $1,061 in cash in July, 2016, for his mother’s gravestone after he was promised a cash discount. Despite repeated calls and emails, the headstone was never delivered, with the company telling him that October that the headstone had been chipped and a new one needed to be made.
“I never heard from them since,” he said. “I am upset. I feel very disappointed. What kind of a lowlife person would take money for a headstone and then leave you without it?”
According to the complaint, National Memorial Stone “performed services for consumers in a shoddy or unworkmanlike manner and failed to correct the work. Such shoddy work included delivering headstones or gravesite markers with incorrect names, misspelled names, and incorrect dates; installing headstones facing the wrong direction; and installing headstones with incorrect granite.”
The company allegedly “caused extensive delays” in delivering headstones or pouring foundations for them. It failed to deliver vases, military plates, and other items consumers had purchased, and some consumers said they never received what they purchased and received no refunds.
“In at least one instance,” the suit states, “defendants repossessed the headstone of a 10-year-old child. This headstone has never been returned, despite full payment.”
The lawsuit alleges the acts violated Ohio's Consumer Sales Practice Act.
“A family grieving the loss of a loved one should not have to worry if their loved one’s headstone is correct or is not delivered,” Mr. DeWine said in a news release. “We want consumers to receive restitution for this violation of trust, and businesses that operate like this to stop.”
Assigned to Judge Stacy Cook, the complaint seeks an order permanently enjoining Mr. Dailey and P&E Industries from doing business as National Memorial Stone Co. or any other name. It also seeks a monetary judgment to reimburse all consumers damaged by the company, as well as a $25,000 civil penalty and legal fees.
Mr. Daily could not be reached for comment Friday. The phone number at National Memorial Stone has been disconnected and its Web site disabled.
Last year, KeyBank National Association filed a civil action in Lucas County Common Pleas Court after Mr. Daily and P&E Industries defaulted on a $550,000 U.S. Small Business Administration loan issued for National Memorial Stone in 2009. KeyBank was granted a $377,758 judgment in the case.
Toledo attorney David Borell, who represented Mr. Daily in the KeyBank suit, also could not be reached for comment Friday.
Blade Staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this report.
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