LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Two siblings who claimed a Mission Hills cemetery moved their mother’s ashes so the vacated space near Groucho Marx’s remains could be resold for profit have settled their lawsuit with the graveyard and its owner.
The late Jeannine Kane’s children, Stephanie Kirschner and Brad Kane, sued Eden Memorial Park and Service Corporation International, SCI California Funeral Services Inc. and Eden Memorial Park in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2012. SCI is the parent company of SCI California, which bought the Jewish cemetery in 1985.
The plaintiffs filed a notice of settlement on June 22. The terms were not divulged. Attorneys Michael Avenatti, for the plaintiffs, and Toby Margarian — representing Service Corp. International, SCI California Funeral Services Inc. and Eden Memorial Park — did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The children claimed that Eden neither asked their permission nor let them know that it was moving their mother’s ashes, which were placed in an urn at the cemetery after she died in 1979. Kane testified in a deposition that he was present when his mother’s remains were inurned and that his father and sister even commented on the coincidence of the niche being directly below the Marx ashes.
“The family used to joke that Groucho Marx was on top of their mother,” according to an appellate court decision in the case.
But when the plaintiffs visited the cemetery in 2011, they found that their mother’s niche was one row down from Marx’s and several columns to the right, according to the children.
“While the improper handling of plaintiffs’ mother’s remains is egregious in and of itself, defendants’ conduct is particularly reprehensible in light of defendants’ alleged motive in moving the remains of plaintiffs’ mother, namely more money,” the complaint stated. “Indeed, plaintiffs’ mother had been previously inurned in a niche adjacent to that of the famous comedian and film and television star, Julius Henry ‘Groucho’ Marx.”
Kane and Kirschner say they went to the cemetery office and that an employee, Nathan Samuels, told them that “a lot of terrible things” had happened at the cemetery, but that the people responsible no longer worked there.
In 2015, Judge Mark Mooney granted a defense motion to dismiss the case, but Kane and Kirschner appealed. A three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed Mooney in 2015.
Marx was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with pneumonia in June 1977 and died there in August of that year at age 86.