FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A Fort Wayne end-of-life care company is suing the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and others after a cease and desist order shut down the company Monday, according to U.S. District Court documents.

The lawsuit claims the cease and desist order imposed a “complete gag order” on the company, Death Done Differently, and its owner, Lauren Richwine, by forcing both parties to obtain funeral director and funeral home licenses.

According to the lawsuit, those licenses are “burdensome to obtain” and would require years of time and “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.”

Therefore, the lawsuit argues the cease and desist order violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.

However, the Indiana Board of Funeral & Cemetery Service and Indiana Attorney General’s Office thought differently and ordered the cease and desist on the grounds that Richwine and her company could not speak with other adults about end-of-life care without funeral director and funeral home licenses.

The cease and desist order, issued Aug. 21, ended a two-year period of investigations and back-and-forth discussions between Richwine and state officials.

In 2021, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) received an anonymous complaint regarding Death Done Differently that claimed the company may have violated Indiana’s funeral laws by practicing without a license.

According to the lawsuit, IPLA records showed the complaint did not claim the company harmed or deceived any customers and only mentioned how Death Done Differently may need a license to offer its services.

Indiana law partially describes the “practice of funeral service” as “the counseling of individuals concerning methods and alternatives for the final disposition of human remains.”

Richwine founded Death Done Differently in 2019, according to the lawsuit, and she aims to help families look at all options for death care in Indiana, including options outside of “conventional” services such as “green burials” and home funerals.

Although Death Done Differently does discuss end-of-life care with families, both the company and Richwine do not claim to be a funeral home and funeral director, and the company does not do things funeral homes typically do, including embalming, storing, cremating and burying remains, according to the lawsuit.

Instead, Richwine described the company’s services as being “complementary” to funeral directors and funeral homes, and she also partners with those parties in her work.

On Thursday, Richwine held a press conference summarizing the reasoning behind the lawsuit and the arguments within it.

During the press conference, Richwine said she knew it would only be a matter a time before her services were noticed by state officials due to Indiana’s funeral service laws.

“I’m actually surprised it took as long as it did,” Richwine said.

Currently, the company’s website has a message on the home page saying Richwine “isn’t giving up and plans to be back in business.”

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are petitioning a judge to order an injunction that would nullify the cease and desist order, along with compensation for attorney fees.