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Summary judgment likely in funeral home case

September 11, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Arguments were heard Monday on a challenge to Maryland's restrictions on funeral home ownership.

A group that includes Charles Brown, the owner of Rest Haven Cemetery in Hagerstown, has sued to strike down the state's requirement that funeral home owners be licensed directors.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Va.

Members of the Maryland State Board of Morticians, which regulates the state's funeral industry, are named as defendants.

A hearing was held Monday at U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

The hearing was on motions for summary judgment, which is a request for a judge to rule on a case based on the facts presented, instead of going to trial.

Both sides agreed that there are no disputed facts, so summary judgment is likely, Clark Neily, a senior attorney for Institute for Justice, said in a telephone interview.

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U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett, who heard the arguments, said he'll rule on the motions by the end of the month, according to Neily.

For a decade, Brown unsuccessfully lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to change the state law.

Charles Brown's son, Eric, who is licensed, owns Rest Haven Funeral Chapel on the same property as the cemetery.

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