The California State Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower-court decision that gave class-action status to a lawsuit alleging mass desecration of grave sites at Eden Memorial Park, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA, a Jewish cemetery which is under the care of the Texas-based Service Corporation International, thus clearing the way for injured families to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the LA Daily News reports.
Service Corporation International (SCI) claims to be “North America’s most trusted provider of end-of-life arrangements and services.” Based in Houston, Texas, the company operates more than 1,400 funeral homes and 380 cemeteries. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SCI.”
According to the LADN, the lawsuit alleges that cemetery groundskeepers were repeatedly instructed by SCI management to secretly break concrete vaults with a backhoe and remove, dump and/or discard the human remains – including human skulls – to make room for new burials, all in the interest of increased profits.
According to the complaint, SCI took steps to conceal their fraudulent actions by threatening employees and witnesses with retaliation and firing.
The Plaintiffs’ attorneys have estimated damages at more than $500 million. A trial was scheduled for Oct. 15.
According to JTA, in 2003 SCI agreed to a $100 million settlement with Menorah Gardens in Southwest Ranches, Fla., after being accused of misplacing bodies, smashing vaults and overselling plots at its graveyards near Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale.
SCI, along with other companies, is also facing a $200 million lawsuit in Florida for desecrating burial plots and placing the wrong bodies in several gravesites.