Funeral Company Sued For $200 Million For Desecrating Jewish Cemetery in Florida

In the past couple years, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated in Kosovo, Poland, Greece, France and Turkey, and now, allegedly, southeast Florida.

The desecration of Star of David Memorial Gardens, reported by the Sun Sentinel, wasn't motivated by politics, or ideology, or hate. According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Palm Beach Circuit Court, it was done in the name of profit, or simply out of gross negligence. The plaintiffs are suing for $200 million.

The class action lawsuit claims that for years SCI Funeral Services has instructed workers to bury individuals in the wrong grave plot; secretly dig up human remains and move them without notifying families; crush burial containers to make room for more; literally bury evidence of damaged containers; and dump burial containers, which may have contained human remains, into the adjacent lake.

Employees were allegedly threatened that if they spoke out they could lose their jobs.

The lawsuit further claims that SCI didn't know where some individuals were buried, and purposely sold plots it didn't have space for.

Not only did directors at SCI Funeral Services direct their employees to do these things, according to the lawsuit, but executives at SCI's headquarters in Houston knew about it, and were part of the campaign to cover it up. SCI owns cemeteries, funeral homes and crematories at approximately 2,000 locations in North America, according to spokeswoman Lisa Marshall. Most of their 381 cemeteries aren't Jewish.

"As a result of the situation described above," the lawsuit states, "every person who has buried a loved one at Star of David, and every person who has purchased grave spaces and/or burial/funeral services and merchandise at Star of David has been defrauded."

These actions, the lawsuit continues, "are morally despicable and have no place in civilized society."

"Obviously we'll conduct a thorough investigation into the claim," says Marshall. "I think it's important to note, that in all of our cemeteries we have strict quality controls. We feel like those strict standards have been adhered to."

SCI was found guilty of a similar slate of crimes back in 2001 at another cemetery, Menorah Gardens, not far from Star of David. It was accused of overselling burial plots, and digging up and scattering remains to make room for more. SCI settled in 2009 for $100 million, with $40 million of that split between 350 families according to the level of desecration their loved ones' had suffered. It was considered one of the biggest cases of cemetery abuse in American history.

"As a result of Menorah, the whole industry took a good look at their procedures," says Marshall. "And we certainly did a very thorough rewrite of our policies and procedures."

Marshall says that training for their on-site employees is usually "a day or two."

SCI is also currently a defendant in another class action lawsuit concerning the desecration of a cemetery in Los Angeles.

"This is Menorah all over again but on a much greater scale," lead attorney for the plaintiffs Michael Avenatti told the McClatchy-Tribune.

The class action suit currently has two named plaintiffs, although there will probably be more to come. Avenatti believes more than 1,000 families are affected. "If any family is concerned," says Marshall. "They should call us."



Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now



More From AOL Jobs



Filed under: Lawsuits

Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

183 Comments

Filter by:
pantera662

Buyer beware. If you want to celebrate your loved ones life just avoid sci and the dignity logo. Go to a local family Owned funeral home who actually cares about their reputation and your family! SCI or dignity( lack of it) is no good. The big CEOs sitting behind their desk do not care about your family only your wallet.

August 11 2012 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thrift Store

SCI own every funeral home that has the Dignity emblem (logo) on it so beware

June 28 2012 at 2:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thrift Store

I used to work for SCI at woodlawn Memorial in Gotha Fl you have no idea what was going on there

June 28 2012 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CAIN

i think people around the world is sick and tired with "THE ROGUE TERRORIST STATE OF ISRAEL" ,and the biggest human rights violators....these people committed genocide in Gaza, killing 900 children in a hospital, stealing the palestine people land, have a DEATH CAMP in GAZA, starving the people there to death, with our tax $$$$, people around the world, of all skin colors and religions, is sick and tired with this!! AND THEY CLAIM THAT THEY ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE??? YES, TO CREAT WORLD WAR 3 !!!!

June 27 2012 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drkmck

It's bad enough to have to deal with a family members death. To have to be at the mercy of animals like this is so wrong. Why, if they have had issues like this are they allowed to remain in business? Why aren't they in jail? I pre-paid my burial plot for myself, my disabled daughter, and my disabled cousin. The idea that someone could be using that plot for something like this is sickening. How does a person know?

April 10 2012 at 3:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

I wasn't surprised when I saw that SCI was involved in something like this. I worked with the company for about seven months back in the late 1990's, so I am well aware of some of the things they do. For example, one thing I was required to do was call people from a call list and tell them that their names and phone numbers were given to me by a friend or family member. Imagine how badly I felt when one of the people on the list told me he wasn't surprised someone had given me his phone number since his wife was dying of cancer?! Like he needed more reminding?! And can you imagine how he must have felt thinking someone he knew had given this information to a funeral company?!

The last couple of months I worked for them, my office was located with a wall adjacent to the company's garage, where they parked their digging equipment. Guess what else was "parked" there? The bodies waiting for funeral services/burial, stacked in a "holding area." And since they were very lax about preparing the bodies, often waiting until just a couple of hours before the viewing, the smell was horrific.

All this happened in a cemetery/funeral home that was the most expensive in the city. People didn't mind paying more because they thought that they were getting the best available for their loved ones, not wanting to scrimp on the final thing that they could do for them. Yet, they were getting the worst level of uncaring possible. The company was only out for money, not caring.

Needless to say, I finally got to where I could not bear to work for this place any longer. I was unemployed for nearly a year after I left, but I felt better looking for another job all that time, rather than keeping a job at such a place.

April 09 2012 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
JoanneVLavender

This isn't new behaviors by people who are associated with burying the dead.

My grandmother died almost forty years ago. Her body was sent to the funeral director. My mother couldn't handle anything; she was devastated. That left my sister and me to handle the details. We walked into the home. We were received by the owner, who had been involved in every family funeral for generations (and the company is still in business today, and just as obnoxious). Just inside the door was my grandmother's body, identified by her toe tag, which stuck out from under the sheet. My sister was weepy, but I don't cry. The "gentleman" told me what a cold-hearted b*tch I was because I wasn't crying over my grandmother. I was outraged. That place may have had my ancestors' funerals, but it will NEVER handle mine.

April 09 2012 at 8:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to JoanneVLavender's comment
drkmck

That's horrible! My mother and my brother were buried by the same funeral parlor in a little town in New Jersey three years apart. They were wonderful and very caring. I cannot imagine going through what you did besides having to deal with a family members death. This whole thing is awful. Somebody should have smacked him!

April 10 2012 at 3:15 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
HWOODTX61

You'll be dead,how will you know the difference !

With a toe tag too...

April 23 2012 at 8:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jimbolina1

Sounds to me like this company should be banned from ever doing any funeral related business. I am sure they must be liscensed to do it so just revoke it.

April 09 2012 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jimbolina1's comment
HWOODTX61

Hey Einstein,

Every State has a different liscense,and so do the embalmbers

April 23 2012 at 8:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hamsterbdc

Too many people in the world, its only going to get worse. Two kids are enough people! Three max!

April 09 2012 at 6:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hamsterbdc's comment
JoanneVLavender

This isn't about how may children you have; it's about how large corporations are flouting common decency in the faces of the people who pay for their services.

April 09 2012 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hswremann

Sorry about that ..before I get Repremindanded by the Spell checking Police on here .MY "Typo"the small Mom and Pop Family Owned Funeral Homes that hev been owned by large ..I should have said "Have" not hev

April 09 2012 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Jobs

In Partnership With
Keywords:
Location:

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

April 13 - April 20

Looking for work? See what companies added new openings this week.