Lawsuit alleges graves in disrepair at San Fernando Mission Cemetery

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– The area around Mary Rodriguez’s gravestone is nicely manicured because her daughter, Marie Silva, said she’s the one clearing the dirt and weeds.

“It seems like if we don’t do it then it will just stay that way,” Silva said. “Its been like that for years. My mom has been gone 10 years now today.”

Silva’s mother is buried at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, which is maintained by the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese.

Some family members say they’ve noticed their loved one’s headstones have been neglected, covered in dirt, overgrown with weeds or missing altogether.

Attorney Jeffrey Spencer is now representing two people who are suing the archdiocese in a class-action lawsuit.

“When they went out and visited their loved one’s graves a few months ago, they found they were in a complete state of disrepair,” Spencer said. “They were covered with weeds, overgrown. Some of their loved one’s grave markers, they couldn’t even find them.”

Spencer’s clients didn’t want to be interviewed for this story, but they want the archdiocese to clean up the Mission Hills location and the ten other cemeteries maintained by the archdiocese.

“My clients entrusted their loved ones to the archdiocese to maintain their grave site and their remains in perpetuity,” Spencer said. “It was very distressing and upsetting to see that that hadn’t been done.”

A spokesperson for the archdiocese said in a statement: “We are not aware of any of the damage alleged in the litigation.”

The diocese said it 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 patrons.

But lawsuit alleges the fund money isn’t being used properly.

Alexis Maciel said she’s complained twice that her loved one’s headstone is tilted.

“It’s really upsetting because I continuously keep calling and they’re not doing anything about it. Tt’s sad to go visit a loved one and see their plot is a mess,” Maciel said.

Many other families said they’ve never had any issues and the majority of graves are well maintained.

“I haven’t seen anything in disrepair they are always doing maintenance here,” Arthur Silva said. “My family members have been here 15 years plus and I’ve had no issues at all.”

The archdiocese asks patrons who have an issue about gravestone maintenance to contact the cemetery manager to get it resolved.

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