LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A year after a $35.2 million settlement was reached in a lawsuit brought by nine people who alleged mass disturbances of graves at a Jewish cemetery in Mission Hills, another group of plaintiffs is suing the same burial ground.
Several dozen relatives of decedents at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery filed the complaint Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. The allegations include tortious interference with dead bodies and with the right to dispose of remains, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud.
The 67-acre cemetery opened in 1954 and its assets were acquired in 1995 by SCI California Funeral Services Inc., co-defendants in the lawsuit with Service Corp. International. Comedians Groucho Marx and Lenny Bruce are among those buried there.
SCI spokeswoman Jessica McDunn issued a statement saying company officials “have not seen the lawsuit and therefore cannot comment on it.”
Like the original lawsuit, the new complaint alleges that groundskeepers were repeatedly instructed by cemetery management to secretly break outer burial containers.
“Even more shocking, current and former groundskeepers at the cemetery have admitted that breaking burial vaults will often cause human remains to spill out of the broken vaults,” the suit alleges. “In such situations, the groundskeepers were instructed by their supervisors to throw away the bones and other remains in the cemetery dump located on the cemetery premises.’’
The cemetery’s own employees have testified that every grave at Eden Memorial Park is currently at risk of being disturbed and its protective vault damaged, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendants’ management has admitted that these problems should have been disclosed to all prospective purchasers, but defendants have been concealing these problems from family members for decades,” the suit alleges.