Eagan Avenatti, LLP (“EA”) has been aggressively pursuing this matter on a near daily basis since the filing of the class action on September 10, 2009. To date there has been in excess of seventy (70) days of deposition testimony. This includes the thirty-three (33) current and former employees of Eden Memorial Park Cemetery/Service Corporation International ("SCI"), and four (4) individuals with the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau that we have deposed. A deposition is an opportunity for attorneys, on behalf of their clients, to question a witness under oath similar to the questioning that occurs at a trial.
The evidence produced and the depositions completed thus far in this case have unfortunately confirmed our worst fears. The evidence indicates there has been a pervasive practice of grave disturbances and desecrations at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery spanning an approximate 30 year time period. A number of groundskeepers and supervisors have admitted under oath they routinely damaged and broke burial vaults containing human remains, sometimes as much as two to three times per week. These groundskeepers and supervisors have further admitted that many times this would cause human remains, including bones, to spill out of the broken burial vaults. According to the evidence produced and the sworn testimony, the groundskeepers were often instructed by the cemetery to discard any remaining bones, pieces of burial shrouds or broken casket remnants in the cemetery dump located at the northern most section of the cemetery.
Because the practice was pervasive, the cemetery did not keep records of which burial vaults were broken. Moreover, because the vaults are buried under ground, it is impossible to visually identify, from above the ground, which graves were disturbed. There may be, however, non-invasive procedures available to allow family members to identify broken vaults without disturbing the decedent’s grave and we are consulting with experts about the possible use of these procedures. On November 19, 2010, after reviewing evidence presented by Plaintiffs, the Court issued a sanctions order against Eden for the destruction of physical evidence after the filing of the lawsuit.
SCI, in an attempt to limit the claims in this lawsuit, filed six separate Motions for Summary Judgment/Adjudication which Plaintiffs subsequently opposed. In an Order issued on January 5, 2012, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr ruled on these six motions stating that the Plaintiffs have presented evidence sufficient for the case to proceed to trial, including internal notes from SCI showing that the company was aware that human remains were being thrown in mass graves in order to make new graves “fit” and that in at least one instance, a baby had been removed from a grave without the consent or knowledge of the family.
The Trial of this matter is currently set for July 15, 2013.
Information Current as of January 2013.