LA Archdiocese facing lawsuit over poor maintenance of Mission Hills Cemetery

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– Two people are suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, alleging a Mission Hills cemetery is in such disrepair that they cannot find their loved ones’ graves.

William Howard and Jodi Howard filed the proposed class-action suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging breach of contract, negligence and fraud.

The lawsuit does not state the relationship, if any, between the plaintiffs, whose attorney, Jeffrey Spencer, could not be immediately reached.

The suit seeks unspecified damages, plus the creation of a trust so that any wrongfully obtained monies can be returned to the class plaintiffs.

An archdiocese spokeswoman said the lawsuit has not yet been served so she had no comment on its allegations, but she issued a general statement about Catholic cemeteries.

“The care of our burial grounds is a priority for our Catholic cemeteries as a ministry of the church,” the statement read. “Catholic cemeteries, as religious ministries, are not required under state law to create a financial reserve for an endowment care fund. However, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles voluntarily maintains a designated fund that is equivalent to what is required by state law to ensure the perpetual care and maintenance of the final resting places of our Catholic faithful.”

According to the lawsuit, San Fernando Mission Cemetery is the burial location of William Howard’s parents and brother as well as Jodi Howard’s sister and grandparents.

Burial contracts with the archdiocese call for 15 percent of the amounts paid to be devoted to cemetery maintenance, the suit states.

However, the archdiocese is failing to use the cemetery maintenance fund monies at its burial grounds, leaving them “desecrated” and “in a state of disrepair and neglect,” according to the complaint.

The gravesites are covered in weeds and  grave markers have been lost, damaged or removed, the suit alleges.

“Plaintiffs … cannot locate the gravesites of their decedents …,” the suit states. “There can be no peace of mind or assurance of a dignified and respectful final resting place … due to defendants’ misconduct.”

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