Hillenbrand Announces Court of Appeals Denies Class Certification
On September 13, 2012 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of class certification in the previously disclosed lawsuit filed by the Funeral Consumers Alliance, Inc. (FCA) and a number of individual consumer casket purchasers against Batesville and our former parent company, Hillenbrand Industries (NYSE: HI), now Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (Hill-Rom), and three national funeral home businesses (the FCA Action). The plaintiffs' claim for attorney fees was remanded back to the District Court.
The FCA, a self-styled consumer advocacy group, had sought class certification in a lawsuit alleging that Batesville Casket Company and its three named customers had violated antitrust laws by Batesville limiting the sale of its Batesville Caskets to licensed funeral homes. A U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Texas denied class certification on March 26, 2009 and the appellate court denied the subsequent petition for appeal on June 19, 2009. Following the denial of class certification, the plaintiffs pursued claims for individual defendants, and those claims were ultimately dismissed by the District Court in their entirety on September 24, 2010. Following dismissal of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs appealed the overall dismissal and the earlier denial of class certification