July 11, 2023
A Philadelphia-based headstone company has been sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General for allegedly failing to fulfill orders despite taking thousands of dollars in deposits and payments from grieving customers in the state, officials said Monday.
The lawsuit, filed last week in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, is the result of numerous consumer protection complaints made in recent months, alleging that All American Monuments, Inc., a headstone company owned by Nancy Jelassi, received substantial deposits for cemetery monuments, made repeated promises of delivery, failed to fulfill orders and did not issue refunds. The company took more than $19,000 in total, the Inquirer reported.
The lawsuit claims that Jelassi and All American Monuments violated Pennsylvania's consumer protection laws by repeatedly engaging in deceptive business practices, taking money from residents and then failing to meet their promises to deliver timely cemetery markers, gravestones, vases and memorials. It alleges that the company would repeatedly take money from grieving customers, fail to produce results on time or at all and then cease production when asked for a refund.
"Ms. Jelassi and her company took advantage of grieving Pennsylvanians, making tragic circumstances that much harder for families who were not able to provide proper burial services for their loved ones," Henry said. "As Attorney General, I am proud to be a champion for Pennsylvanians who are taken advantage of during their most vulnerable times."
Customers were asked for a 33% deposit at the time of order and another 33% payment after receiving an initial computer sketch of the monument, the lawsuit claims. The remaining balance would be due when the project was complete. While the company said it could not provide exact dates and times for completion, the contract promises to deliver results in "a timely fashion."
One Feasterville woman paid All American Monuments $1,325 for a cemetery monument for her father, who died in July 2020. The project was estimated to cost $4,000 in total, according to the lawsuit. Jelassi confirmed that she'd received the customer's numerous requests for updates over a three-year period; the monument wasn't completed and the customer was denied a refund, the lawsuit claims.
A resident of Orefield contacted the company in January 2021 after their parents died 12 days apart due to COVID-19. The customer paid the company an initial deposit of $2,500, asking Jelassi when the monument would be completed because, as members of the Jewish faith, a monument at the gravesite would be needed to conduct traditional death practices. The company said that the monument would be done by September of that year, but the customer never received one and was also denied a refund.
Earlier this year, 6ABC reported about Sofia Blekher, a Northeast Philly resident who waited three years for All American Monuments to build a headstone despite paying them a $1,334 deposit and an additional $650. While the contract said it would take between six and eight months to complete, Blekher still has not been able to put a monument near the grave of her mother, who passed away in January 2020.
Jelassi admitted to state officials that many customers did not receive monuments that were partially paid for and that many did not receive refunds. She noted that she wanted to provide refunds but has failed to issue any refunds to customers who filed complaints with the state, according to the lawsuit.
All American Monuments, Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the state's lawsuit.
At Fine Monuments, the company's website, prospective customers can learn about the company's 100% satisfaction guarantee, look at finished products and get a quote for cemetery monuments. It remains unclear if the company is still in business as Google results indicate the business is permanently closed.
The state asked the court to place a permanent injunction on All American Monuments to stop the company and its founder from doing business with Pennsylvanians, as officials believe the company will continue to cause harm otherwise. In addition, the state is asking the company to pay restitution to impacted customers and cover the state's costs associated with enforcing its consumer protection law.
The Attorney General's Office urges any resident who feels they were impacted by All American Monuments to file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection. The bureau can be contacted at (800) 441-2555 and complaints can be submitted online.