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Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 29573
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My wife died-Brest Cancer on October 25, 2010, I negotiated

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My wife died-Brest Cancer on October 25, 2010, I negotiated in good fate with a Funeral Home for funeral arrangements at a cost of $12,987 to be paid from my wife’s life insurance settlement of $20,500. My wife spent seven weeks in Hospice and then I received a bill for $24,000 from the nursing home. Along with the medical bills, consumer debt and the fact I would have to return two months of my wife’s income to medicate, that I used for living expense, I filed Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, on November 15, 2010 and was discharged on February 25th 2011. Shortly after the Funeral Home received the Bankruptcy petition, one of the owners called my home, very upset that I filed Bankruptcy and he was trying to collect the $12,000, then I got angry and told him so, I just lost my wife to Brest cancer and because of my medical bills I had to file Bankruptcy. I was really upset at the way he was caring on. He then called my sister, who is a family friend, and she agreed to pay the funeral expenses. In the summer of 2011 my sister paid $6,000 to the funeral home when I found out I told my sister not to pay them any more money until we find out what the funeral home recovers from my Bankruptcy estate. Eventually the funeral home recovered $3,875 from my Bankruptcy estate.
In the spring of 2012 my sister ended up in a nursing home, assisted living, because of her diabetes and was in the process of selling her house when the brother kept calling her to collect the $3,000. I told my sister that she is not obligated to pay them anything until she sells her home. She paid them the remaining balance of the funeral expenses.
My sister gave me her car last year because she no longer can drive and I would take her grocery shopping and transport her to her doctors.
My sister now wants me to sell my car and give her the proceeds because of her expenses in the nursing home.
What recourse, if any, to I have against that funeral home?
Tony Radogna
Greece, NY
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Roger replied 2 years ago.
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

The funeral home had a right to collect the debt until the bankruptcy. However, if your bankruptcy discharged the debt to the funeral home, then you have no legal obligation to pay it anything and it cannot seek to recover the debt from you as a result.

As for any recourse against the funeral home for harassing you about the bill, the only real cause of action I can see is intentional infliction of emotional distress. In order to pursue this, you would need medical proof that you have suffered mentally as a result - - usually, you need treatment from a medical provider (psychologist, etc.) and also preferably a diagnosis that is caused by the treatment of the funeral home. If you can prove that the funeral home's actions have caused you distress and that you have sought mental health treatment as a result, then you could make a case for damages.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What about monetary compensation, those funeral expenses were legally discharged in my Bankruptcy? If the funeral home didn’t harass my sister to collect that debt, she won’t be asking me for her car back.

Expert:  Roger replied 2 years ago.
You would not have a cause of action against the funeral home for this BECAUSE you weren't pursued by the funeral home for the debt AND your sister voluntarily agreed to pay - - your sister may have a claim against the funeral home for something, but you would not.

Also, one thing you need to make sure is understood - a bankruptcy DOES NOT erase a debt; instead a bankruptcy only discharges the bankrupt debtor's OBLIGATION to pay the debt. So, the debt is still valid, due and outstanding to the funeral home, BUT it's just not collectible from you because you have received a discharge of the debt.

Thus, the debt is still collectible, and if your sister agreed to pay, there's nothing you can do about that. Any claim would be between your sister and the funeral home.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

One more question, (thank you for your time), the funeral home was paid in cash, is it possible they double dipped and also had a deductible business expense?

You say I don’t have a cause because I wasn’t pursued: He called me after he received my BK notice wanting me to pay the funeral expenses. After I became upset at him is when he turned around and put pressure on my sister.

Expert:  Roger replied 2 years ago.
I can't say whether it not the funeral home double dipped or not. They certainly should not have done so, but finding that out would likely take a lawsuit and a subpoena.

An isolated phone call to you isn't likely going to be enough in your case to have a claim. Also, if the funeral home contacted you after filing, you could have filed a petition in bankruptcy court claiming that they violated the automatic stay, and the judge could have thrown out the claim altogether - but this is not likely because of just one call.

Your sister may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, however.
Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 29573
Experience: BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
Roger and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Roger replied 2 years ago.

Hi -

I was checking in to see if you had any additional questions or needed anything further. If so, please let me know. Thanks.

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