Skip to main content

California cemetery agrees to $80 million settlement over desecrating remains

By Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
updated 11:04 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The allegations involve employees at Eden Memorial Park, in Mission Hills, California
  • It's one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the Los Angeles area
  • Plaintiff's attorney: "We did not rest until truth prevailed"

Los Angeles (CNN) -- One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the Los Angeles area has agreed to an $80.5 million settlement of a lawsuit that accused it of desecrating remains, according to court documents.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleged that employees at Eden Memorial Park, in Mission Hills, California, "intentionally, willfully and secretly desecrated the remains of deceased individuals," often moving them to make room for new remains. The cemetery is owned by Service Corporation International, or SCI, the largest owner of cemeteries in the United States.

The court granted preliminary approval of the settlement Thursday.

The case was brought on behalf of more than 25,000 Jewish families, according to plaintiffs' attorneys.

"This settlement is a testament to the thousands of Jewish families who have been traumatized because of the conduct of Eden Memorial Park and SCI," lead attorney Michael Avenatti said in a statement.

"We have been honored to represent these families and as promised nearly five years ago, we did not rest until truth prevailed. We are pleased with the settlement and are proud that this lawsuit resulted in SCI immediately changing its business practices at Eden to ensure this never happens to another family again," he said.

This is not the first time Service Corporation International has faced allegations of digging up graves and moving bodies to make room for new remains. It reached a $100 million settlement with families of victims whose remains were desecrated at Menorah Gardens in Florida. The company also reached a $14 million settlement with the Florida state attorney's office over issues related to those same claims.

CNN's Carma Hassan, Abbie Boudreau and Scott Zamost contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT