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Baldridge v. Dept. of Registration & Educ.

OPINION FILED JULY 1, 1977.

CHARLES BALDRIDGE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF REGISTRATION AND EDUCATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MEJDA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Mr. JUSTICE MEJDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, the Illinois Department of Registration and Education (hereinafter Department), revoked the certificates of registration of plaintiff, Charles Baldridge, as funeral director and embalmer. Plaintiff here appeals from an order of the trial court upon administrative review which sustained the decision of the Department "revoking plaintiff's license as funeral director." On appeal he contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to remand the cause to the Department for further proceedings, and that the decision of the trial court sustaining the Department's decision is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We affirm.

A complaint was filed with the Department against plaintiff, Charles Baldridge, d/b/a Baldridge Funeral Home. It alleged, inter alia, that on January 24, 1974, plaintiff and his wife went to the home of Mrs. Emma Hope at which time the murdered body of the latter's daughter was at the Cook County morgue; that Mrs. Hope signed an authorization to release the body to the Baldridge Funeral Home, which was done; that the signature was obtained by purporting the instrument to be an authorization to pick up the daughter's personal belongings; and that Mrs. Hope was unaware that the Baldridges were connected with a funeral home but believed the visit due to their daughters having been schoolmates. The complaint set forth that plaintiff's certificate of registration as funeral director and embalmer was therefore subject to revocation or suspension pursuant to the Illinois Funeral Directors and Embalmers Act (hereinafter Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 111 1/2, pars. 73.1 to 73.31); specifically subparagraphs (e), (j) and (m) of section 10 of article I and subparagraphs (e) and (k) of section 10 of article II of the Act, which in pertinent part provide:

"§ 10. The Department * * * may suspend or may revoke any [funeral director's] certificate of registration for any one or any combination of the following causes:

(e) For incompetency or untrustworthiness in the practice of funeral directing. * * *

(j) For taking undue advantage of a patron or patrons as to amount to the perpetration of fraud.

(m) Upon a satisfactory showing or finding that there has been a solicitation of a deceased human body by the licensee * * * his or their agents * * *."

"§ 10. The Department * * * may suspend or may revoke any [embalmer's] certificate of registration for any one, or any combination, of the following causes:

(e) For incompetency or untrustworthiness in the practice of embalming;

(k) For taking such undue advantage of a patron or patrons as to amount to the perpetration of fraud; * * *."

A hearing was held before the board of examiners on funeral directing and embalming of the Department (hereinafter Board) on February 21, 1974. The following pertinent testimony was given at the hearing.

Mrs. Emma Hope testified. At approximately 12:45 a.m. on January 24, 1974, she was notified by the Cook County Hospital that her daughter Marie had been stabbed. Upon arrival at the hospital she was informed that Marie had died at 12:55 a.m. At about 7:15 a.m., a man and woman came to her home uninvited, subsequently identified as Mr. and Mrs. Baldridge. They told Mrs. Hope their daughter had been a friend of the deceased, but they did not identify themselves further. Mrs. Baldridge asked if there was anything she could do, but Mrs. Hope told her that her sister, Eunice Bullock, would make the funeral arrangements. Mr. Baldridge left the apartment to purchase cigarettes. Mrs. Baldridge advised her not to let her daughter's body lie in the morgue too long. She then handed her a blank piece of paper and told her that if she would sign it, she (Mrs. Baldridge) would pick up Marie's personal belongings from the morgue. She signed the paper and returned it to Mrs. Baldridge. The Baldridges then left. Thereafter Eunice Bullock arrived at Mrs. Hope's home and called the Biggs and Biggs Funeral Home to make funeral arrangements. About an hour later Mr. Biggs arrived and had Mrs. Hope sign papers authorizing the release of the body to his funeral home. Biggs later notified Mrs. Hope that the morgue had already released the body to the Baldridge Funeral Home. She called Mr. Baldridge and he told her that before he would release the body to either the family or to Biggs and Biggs, he would have to be paid $250 because she had authorized release of the body to him. Baldridge picked up Mrs. Hope and Mrs. Bullock and took them to his funeral home. She made funeral arrangements with him then because she did not have $250 to release the body. Mrs. Hope also testified that Baldridge told her that she would have to pay $500 cash for the casket and that he would wait for another $100. He told her that the casket had to be paid for or "he would dump [her] daughter's body into a pasteboard box that he could borrow." The total cost of the funeral was $950.

On cross-examination she stated that Mr. Baldridge was not present when she signed the blank paper for Mrs. Baldridge. After the Baldridges left her home, other persons came to her home and said that their daughters had been friends of her daughter, and that they had funeral homes. She gave Mrs. Bullock permission to call Biggs and Biggs.

Mrs. Eunice Bullock substantiated the testimony of Mrs. Hope in that she had been given permission to make the arrangements with Biggs and Biggs, and also as to what transpired between Baldridge and the family of the deceased after Biggs ...


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