The California Supreme Court upheld class-action status for a lawsuit alleging gross misconduct by a Jewish funeral services provider that already has paid a $100 million settlement over similar misconduct.
On July 23, the court upheld a lower court ruling on the suit against Texas-based Service Corporation International alleging mass desecration of gravesites at a Jewish cemetery in Mission Hills, clearing the way for families to collectively seek hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have estimated damages at more than $500 million. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 15.
The lawsuit, filed in September 2009, claims that SCI and its employees purposely desecrated hundreds of Jewish graves and improperly disposed of human remains and bones in mass graves in order to make room for new burials, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
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, also is facing a $200 million lawsuit in Florida for desecrating burial plots and placing the wrong bodies in several gravesites. — jta