Appeal from the Order of the Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in the case of In the Matter of the Application of H.P. Brandt Funeral Home, Inc., for Branch Licensure, dated February 22, 1982.
Gary Milnes, Brandt, Milnes, Rea and Wagner, for petitioner.
Jerome P. Grossi, Counsel, with him Edward D. Frank, II, Chief Counsel, and David F. Phifer, Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Williams, Jr. dissents.
[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 207]
H.P. Brandt Funeral Home, Inc., has filed a petition for review of a decision of the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors denying its application for a license to operate a branch funeral home.
The petitioner is a Delaware business corporation, the capital stock of which is owned by the children and grandchildren of H. P. Brandt, the founder of the business. It holds a license issued by the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors to operate a funeral business located on the Perry Highway in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The Perry Highway address is the petitioner's only place of business; it has never held a license to operate a branch funeral home.
The Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors refused the petitioner's application for a branch license on the ground that the petitioner, being a business corporation, was not permitted to practice funeral directing at a branch place of business. See Section 8(e) of the Funeral Director Law, Act of January 14, 1952, P.L. (1951) 1898, as amended, 63 P.S. 479.1-479.19.
The petitioner contends that in passing a 1976 Amendment to the Funeral Director's Law the legislature
[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 208]
intended to authorize the granting of branch licenses to business corporations. We disagree. The language of the statute, particularly when read in conjunction with the Commonwealth's strong policy against issuing branch licenses to corporations, compels us to conclude that the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors properly refused to grant the petitioner a license to operate a branch funeral home.
Prior to the enactment of the Undertaker's Law, Act of June 10, 1931, P.L. 485 (repealed), the predecessor of the present Funeral Director Law, there were no restrictions on the practice of funeral directing by business corporations which were not applicable to practitioners otherwise organized specifically, there were no restrictions on corporations having branch offices. Section 13 of the Act of June 10, 1931, however, provided:
The provisions of this act shall not be construed as preventing the conducting of the business or profession of undertaking by a corporation heretofore licensed; . . . and no branch ...