Elderly man charged twice for his own cremation—but funeral home refuses a refund

January 10, 2018 4:40 pm Last Updated: January 10, 2018 4:40 pm

Like many 98-year-olds, Herbert Wagner, from Cape Coral, Florida, often needs a helping hand. Luckily, he has a friend in his neighbor, Amy McLean, who helps him with all his day-to-day chores.

“For several years, I’ve been taking him to the grocery store and run errands,” she told Fox 4 Now.

But if that wasn’t enough, McLean recently went above-and-beyond in helping her neighbor—after he nearly lost thousands of dollars.

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

At Wagner’s age, it became time to start thinking about making final arrangements. He asked his neighbor for assistance, and she helped him purchase a cremation plan with Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery. The plan cost $1,730.

But some time later, they realized it was a mistake.

McLean took Wagner to a dentist appointment, and while searching for something in his wallet, she found an old cremation policy card … purchased from the same cemetery, 20 years ago.

Wagner had double-paid for the same cremation policy.

(Fox4 Now/Screenshot)

Obviously this didn’t make any sense, since you can be cremated once, tops.

But unfortunately, Coral Ridge didn’t see it that way and declined to give Wagner a refund on one of the policies.

Weirdly, they did offer a refund—but only to his family, after Wagner had, uh … cashed one of them in.

“The estate can come after death for the refund, but not before,” McLean explained. “Which makes no sense.”

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

To be fair, Wagner, being an old man with memory issues, had simply forgotten about the earlier purchase and unwittingly bought the same one twice.

“Anything that happened 20 years ago, I don’t remember,” he said.

But it was obviously a mistake, and the neighbors were disappointed at the funeral home’s unwillingness to help them out, given the circumstances.

“They should be jumping through hoops to help him,” McLean told Fox 4 Now. “This was unfortunate, unintentional, and obviously he’s been a good customer.”

“I hope that they will be more flexible,” Wagner added.

“My memory isn’t that great and I don’t remember all the details.”

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

But they weren’t alone in their outrage—and soon, they got help.

After Fox 4 Now ran a segment on the story, people online started demanding justice—and when Michael Noone, an attorney at Goldberg Noone, LLC, got hold of the story, he knew he had to help.

Noone accused the funeral home of complicity in taking advantage of Wagner’s mistake.

“Be interesting to know if he walked in and tried to buy a third policy, would they sell it to him?” he wondered.

So he stepped in as Wagner’s legal adviser—with no charge.

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

The lawyer claimed that by charging him twice for the same thing and refusing a refund, they violated the unjust enrichment law, as well as a second law meant to prevent businesses from taking advantage of the elderly.

“Anybody can perhaps make a mistake and give them the benefit of the doubt,” Noone said of the funeral home.

“But, when the mistake is pointed out to the person that erred and they still refuse to do the right thing, I find that to be unique.”

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

But soon, his law office got an unexpected visitor.

It was someone from Coral Ridge—and he was there to make things right.

“He came in and presented me with a check for the entire amount of the second payment,” Scott Goldberg, another legal partner involved with the case, told Fox 4 Now.

Everyone was thrilled by the unexpected legal victory.

“It’s a big deal as far as I’m concerned,” Wagner said after getting his $1,730 back. “I could never even dream of making that much.”

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)

The lawyers at Goldberg Noone were happy they could help restore justice for the old man.

“When you meet someone and you see the kind of person they are, you are glad you are helping them,” Goldberg said of Wagner.

But Wagner gives much of the credit to his neighbor, who had been there for him since the beginning.

“I’m grateful to Amy McLean,” Wagner said. “She’s the one who started all of this.”

(Fox 4 Now/Screenshot)